A rebuttal to Daniel Pipes' Washington Times op-ed on the question of "moderate Islam."
by Walid Shoebat
[the recorded debate between Pipes and Wafa Sultan can be found here]
May 18, 2013
“Our killer question is ‘How do you propose to defeat Islamism?’ Those who make all Islam their enemy not only succumb to a simplistic and essentialist illusion but they lack any mechanism to defeat it.”
This is what historian and Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes asks in his recent Washington Times article.
To support his argument, Pipes makes an unsubstantiated claim that a majority of Muslims are moderate and that Islamism is only, supported by 10-15 percent of Muslims…
So how and why did he come up with such numbers? Pipes uses different studies and surveys about which he himself confesses: “These ambiguous and contradictory percentages lead to no clear, specific count of Islamists.” Why then use such statistics? It is only to serve the major argument he made in my first paragraph.
And there are more “confessions.” Pipes writes: “Out of a quantitative mish-mash, I suggested just three days after 9/11 that some 10-15 percent of Muslims are determined Islamists.” This is in itself contradictory and is even absolutely nonsense mathematically as he clearly admits. To further support this conservative number, Pipes adds:
Indonesian survey and election results led R. William Liddle and Saiful Mujani in 2003 to conclude that the number of Islamists “is no more than 15 percent of the total Indonesian Muslim population.”
He did this while he ignored his other statement:
In contrast, a 2008 survey of 8,000 Indonesian Muslims by Roy Morgan Research found 40 percent of Indonesians favoring hadd criminal punishments (such as cutting off the hands of thieves) and 52 percent favoring some form of Islamic legal code.
So here we have 52% of Indonesians are extremists, not 15%.
Yet even that doesn’t determine the correct percentages to separate Muslims from Islamists. To say that “views on 9/11″ or “supporting Hadd” (Islamic punishment) is the yardstick to measure the percentages is also absurd and mathematically false. What if a Muslim doesn’t support 9/11 or Hadd but supports the idea that it takes two women in a court of law to equal the testimony of a man? Will Pipes count him as a moderate Muslim or an extremist Islamist? If he chooses “moderate,” then Pakistan got it right. No matter what Pipes chooses, it debunks all his unsubstantiated claims about moderate Islam.
What if a Muslim couldn’t care less about Sharia, jihad, and 9/11, yet he kills his sister for marrying a Jew? Is he a “Muslim” or is he an “Islamist”?
And what if we even use terrorism as a yardstick as Pipes prefers; in Saudi Arabia and across the Muslim world, you have many who do not support al-Qaeda. Are these then counted as moderates? In Pipes’ view the answer is “yes.” But this is false. Last week I had an exchange with Sheikh Faisal Al-Harbi, who chastised me on such issues,stating that his clan (Al-Harbi) would not support terrorism. Indeed, on his clan’s official website they denounce al-Qaeda, adding:
Jihad for the sake of Allah is to go to war with the infidels and the polytheists to remove these and enforce Unitarianism. That is after inviting them to Islam and they reject the invitation (Da’wa). This Jihad is then organized and supervised by the Imam.
That cannot be placed in the moderate Islam camp. In light of this and my other arguments, Pipes’ percentages are escalating dramatically.
The true number for Islamists is 100%. Here, let me add more beef to my claim. What if a Muslim denounces today’s jihad, sharia, Islamic state and all? Is he then moderate?
Hardly. The Muslims who take this position take it by claiming that only the Khalifa or the Mahdi can establish these. Take Hisham Kabbani, for example, a Sufi Muslim scholar whose photo Pipes posted.
Islam is the fourteen-century-old faith of a billion-plus believers that includes everyone from quietist Sufis to violent jihadis.
Nonsense. Kabbani is Sufi and is in fact a Mahdist as all Sufi Muslims are. In his work Approach of Armageddon (page 231), he writes of an entire invasion of Israel and believes as Ahmadinejad does:
Hadith indicate that black flags coming from the area of Khorasan [Iran] will signify [that] the appearance of the Mahdi is nigh.
The “black flags” from “Iran” mean the end of Pipes. Just name the Sufi scholar and I can usually find their Arabic writings and prove they are moderate for the time being. Sheikh Maulana Nazeem Kibrisi, another major Sufi scholar, was found in Turkish speaking with the fervor of Adolf Hitler (watch here). Kibrisi was no small-time Sufi either; in a speech given in Germany to Turkish students, with tens of thousands gathered – including then-prime minister-to-be Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Erbakan of the Refah Islamist party – Kibrisi is found saying:
Glory and blessing to the Lord of the two worlds who is the cause of these days. Definitely, the victory belongs to Islam. This flood of people here is a sign of the rise of the glorious Islam. Do they not think that this a great sign? When the great sign appears [Mahdi] the world will shake. Our forefathers made the earth tremble. This gathering is a memento from our forefathers… You are the grand sons of the Ottomans who will make the world tremble again. If the Ottomans do not come back the unbelievers will never be brought down to their knees…history is made of recurrences, certainly our glorious era has come, the day being born belongs to Islam…as long as we have Allah we do not need America, nor do we need the unbelievers in Europe, nor do we need the unbelievers nor will we go their path.
What about Al-Ghazali, the famous theologian, philosopher, and paragon of mystical Sufism whom the eminent W. M. Watt describes as “acclaimed in both the East and West as the greatest Muslim after Mohammed, and he is by no means unworthy of that dignity”? Scholars like Pipes know the truth, yet completely ignore it. Al-Ghazali said:
One must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year… one may use a catapult against them when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them…. If a person of the Ahl al-Kitab [People of The Book—Jews and Christians, typically] is enslaved, his marriage is [automatically] revoked.… One may cut down their trees/…One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide…they may steal as much food as they need.
Pipes even went as low to claim that Muhammad was a “Muslim not an Islamist” and even distinguished him since, “Islamism represents the transformation of Islamic faith into a political ideology.”
By switching Muhammad from “Islamist” to “Muslim, Pipes must then answer a crucial question: is Islam defined by its founder or by Mr. Pipes? Muhammad defined Islam as “Al-Islamu deen wa dawla” (“Islam is a religion and a state”). Pipes then must remove the “and” to substantiate his false case.
Then Pipes makes even more blunders:
Islamism relies heavily on conspiracy theories to interpret the world, on the state to advance its ambitions, and on brutal means to attain its goals.
All this from an historian who ignores that much of Islam, including the Quran, the Hadith and Islamic history, is littered with “conspiracy theories” in order “to advance its ambitions” by “brutal means.”
So here is my answer to Mr. Pipes’ question: We will fight Islam with the bible, history, our Constitution, and our laws and even militarily if we must, while working with any Muslim to bring them on our side of the fence, including terrorists. I was one myself. We will not do this by creating an end that justifies the means. Pipes insists we provide a solution, which according to him is only done by mischaracterizing the problem at hand, which is: it’s Islam, stupid, and it’s 100% all the Muslims that believe in it. To add more from history — Mr. Pipes’ favorite subject — Islam was defeated when the Ottoman Empire was dismantled. And in those times, they didn’t use Pipes’ strategy of differentiating between Islam and Islamism. Sir Winston Churchill said:
Mohammedanism [Islam] is a militant and proselytizing faith.
Suspicions have grown that Muslim convert Samantha Lewthwaite, now known as the White Widow due to her fugitive status in East Africa, was actually one of the masterminds behind the killings in 2005. Immediately after the explosions which murdered 52 people on the London transport system, she said she "abhorred" the actions of her dead husband Jermaine Lindsay, whose bomb detonated near King's Cross on the Piccadilly Line.
However, the middle-class Muslim convert from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, has since risen to a senior status in the Al Shabaab movement in Kenya and Somalia, a terror group affiliated to Al Qaeda.
Believed to be behind its funding and propaganda, the 29-year-old has assumed cult status among her jihadi followers for her characteristic street-slang rants at non-Muslim "kuffar".
An arrest warrant was issued for her last May after she failed to appear in court in Kenya to face bomb-making charges.
The chemicals found in a raid on her home in Kenya in December 2010 included acetone and hydrogen peroxide, two of the key components of the terror attacks in London eight years ago. A security source said: "That raises the prospect that Lewthwaite may have been more closely involved in the 7/7 attacks than previously thought. It might also explain her seniority as a top-rank Al Qaeda leader and the suspected chief financier of Al Shabaab."
Lewthwaite is also a suspect for a grenade attack at a hotel bar in Mombasa, Kenya, in which three people were killed last June while watching an England football match on television during Euro 2012.
She is thought to be behind a "press office" Twitter account for the Muslim Youth Centre, which distributes announcements exhorting violent jihad . . . When confronted on Twitter last month by a journalist who suggested that the @MYC_Press account was being operated by Lewthwaite, the response was: "She's back in Luton :). In Bedford we take no prisoners."
This week in the US, we had two revelations concerning possible threats to water supplies. We refer to the arrest and arraignment by federal prosecutors in Manhattan of Ahmed Abassi, a Tunisian national and chemical engineering graduate of Laval University in Quebec, on Asylum fraud and an alleged WMD attack on a municipal water system. See here. Then there was the detention of seven Pakistani, Saudi, and Singaporean chemical engineering students and graduates caught trespassing on the grounds of the Quabbin reservoir in Massachusetts after closing hours. The Quabbin Reservoir supplies the bulk of the City of Boston's and Western Massachusetts cities’ potable water. The Massachusetts State Police reported that the foreign group was not engaged in any reconnaissance for nefarious purposes at the Quabbin Reservoir. Nonetheless the FBI local office in Springfield, Massachusetts will be periodically monitoring the situation. See here.
Watch this Channel 22 WWLP news story on the Quabbin Reservoir incident in Massachusetts,“Increased precautions after trespassing incident at the Quabbin Reservoir”.
One of the more disabling and emerging pathogens is the cryptosporidium parvum(this is the human infective species) (Crypto) parasite (oocysts) derived from animal and human fecal tissue that has a toughened cell cover which is impervious to chlorination, fluoridation and in some instances, can avoid filtration. Within the United States and other countries, Cryptosporidiosis is a notifiable illness caused by extremely chlorine-tolerant protozoa of the genus Crypto. The only way the parasite can be killed is by boiling water above 160 degree F. Note in this article on the 20th anniversary of the Milwaukee Crypto outbreak that Milwaukeeans are still boiling water. See here. In the US we have had two mass Crypto outbreaks in water supply systems in Carrollton, Georgia in 1987 and in Milwaukee in 1993. The Georgia outbreak affected 13,000 out of 16,000 residents. Because the Milwaukee water supply system draws from Lake Michigan, Crypto pathogens might have entered from drainage or in ice breakup during the early spring. In the Milwaukee case, the epidemiologists and public health specialists estimate that more than 400,000 succumbed to Crypto causing massive outbreaks of watery diarrhea over a period of two weeks or more. 108 deaths occurred involving those with immune deficiencies from cancer treatment, AIDS and other maladies. Within immunocompromised communities, exposure frequently leads to severe and permanent diarrhea, decreasing absorption of nutrients resulting in progressive dehydration and eventual death. See here.
When the Tunisian jihadi, Abassi, referred to placing bacteria sufficient to kill 100,000 in a municipal system that was a stretch. More likely using Crypto parasites, e.coli or other waterborne pathogens could be planted by terrorists in sources and reservoirs for municipal water systems. Waterborne pathogens are more cost effective. Note this comparison:
One study maintains that four tons of the nerve agent VX would be required to cause several hundred thousand deaths if released in aerosol form in a crowded urban area, compared to only 50 kg of anthrax spores (Douglass and Livingstone 1987: 17).
Despite alleged means of attacking these microscopic pathogens as required by the US EPA, it is not fool proof. The number of reported cases and cost of Cryptosporidiosis in the United States continue to be substantial. According to the US. Center for Desease Control in Atlanta, approximately 748,000 Cryptosporidiosis cases occur annually in the US. Cryptosporidiosis is widespread geographically in the United States, with all 50 states and two metropolitan jurisdictions reporting cryptosporidiosis cases during 2009–2010. The UK for example, has had several noted outbreaks, even with increased surveillance and preventative measures such as water treatment filtration. See here.
Think of the use of such pathogens as a means of force reduction. One example in the Middle East might be the placement of Crypto in the source of the Israeli national water system in the Sea of Galilee and Jordan River. Having said that, we suspect that the Israelis may have already developed the means of monitoring to reduce this threat. Such a disease surveillance level is not yet fully in place in the UK, EU and the US.
Let’s address some questions to assess how vulnerable we could be to both state and non-state terrorist actors like Iran, Syria, DPRK, Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaida capable of cultivating and disseminating Crypto.
1. How easily can the Crypto parasite be cultivated and stored for use as a BW?
Some emerging pathogens such as Crypto are resistant to chlorination and can appear even in high quality water supplies. New regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require water systems to monitor Crypto and adopt a range of treatment options based on source water Crypto concentrations. Most water systems are expected to meet EPA requirements while continuing to use chlorination to inactivate this sporazoa. See here.
In conversations with a Crypto expert from the UK Health Protection Agency, their concern was indeed Crypto in their own water supplies. Crypto can be obtained relatively easily and introduced into shallow shelf water reservoirs, such as exist particularly in sections of Beirut. Noting the new standards, which have been adopted in the US after the Milwaukee outbreak, a deliberate attack could be far more successful than a natural outbreak, in terms of introducing it into an unfiltered water supply or one with minimal surveillance and treatment.
It is relatively easy to acquire Crypto. Al Qaida and Hezbollah scientists certainly know how --as do scientific teams associated with the IRGC and the Quds Force. Again, deniability is the key. Parasites and spores, even anthrax in some geographic locations are naturally occurring and thus pose a challenge in terms of identification and response.
2. Which BW threat groups; i.e., Syria, Iran, DPRK, etc. have engaged in development of such pathogens? All ---including China, Russia, Taiwan, Sudan, Algeria, ---the list goes on and on. Also Crypto is one of those parasitic diseases where very valid research is needed because it is a concern, particularly to nations with unfiltered water, high rates of immuno compromised persons, and primitive health care infrastructures. However, as with other Category B and C pathogens, agents, parasites, toxins, there are two things to consider:
First, working in this kind of dual -use area could provide cover for a black program or could enable genetic modification in such a way, not by terrorists per say but by military laboratories, to evade current filtration and or inactivation.
Second, the deliberate introduction of any Category A, B, or C agent would likely produce casualties with high infection rates, possibly require triage and could overwhelm some nations’ laboratory capacity. As mentioned above if-- it is difficult to isolate, nations with inferior lab diagnostics could struggle with it, time is an issue in any outbreak of disease, particularly those which are transmissible.
3. Can Crypto pathogens be developed by scientifically trained terrorists, whether Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaida, or individual jihadis like Abassi? Absolutely. They can be cultivated. Certainly scientists who are with Al Qaida, Hezbollah, and Hamas could easily work with Crypto (C.parvum). There some pathogens that are very difficult to work with but would provide higher kill ratios, which is what you want if you are a terrorist, or you select a less invasive pathogen, agent, parasite and go for lower risks in other areas. Lower containment would be needed. There are lists of both targets and pathogen selection depending on the target. Think of Crypto as a force reducer. Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb might hit sections of the water supply in Africa or the Middle East where your adversaries will be knocked out for a few weeks. Used as a force reducer, Crypto could well provide advantages after the initial infection, or BW/CW to weaken forces, civilians or even UN peacekeepers/NGO’s.
Crypto would appear to be a cheap means of entry for bio-warfare terrorism with dramatic debilitating results if introduced into untreated and even treated water supplies. This is especially acute with vulnerable populations; i.e., cancer, AIDS and those with immuno deficiencies. Moreover, the effects of a deliberate Crypto attack could be devastating to something like the Metropolitan Boston area dependent on the Quabbin Reservoir for its potable water supply and those municipalities that use rivers and lakes as their source water. That is evidenced by the 1987 Carrolton, Georgia, 1993 Milwaukee and recent UK outbreaks, especially as the latter have the same water purification standards as the US EPA.
...last night the mother of two of the abusers, Akhtar Dogar, 32, and Anjum Dogar, 31, said they were innocent and accused police, social services and the girls themselves of being complicit in creating Britain’s “grooming culture”.
She said: “These girls should be playing with toys. If they start (having sex) at ten, by 15 they are proper ladies.”
Her elder son Akhtar was convicted of 11 offences and Anjum of nine. Both men were found guilty of rape, child prostitution and trafficking.
One victim told Thames Valley Police: “I’ve seen them doing it to little girls in their school uniforms.”
...speaking at her home in the Cowley Road area of Oxford, the Dogars’ mother – believed to be named Bashira – said they were innocent.
She said: “On the news they say the girls went from Oxford to London on the train. Are they not old enough then? She was looking for a boy (at a station in London). No one pressurised her, you can see that. Nobody can feel sorry for them unless they’re sorry themselves. In a Muslim community girls are focused on study. Why did they (the authorities) let this happen?”
The Dogars and five others – Mohammed Karrar, 38, Bassam Karrar, 33, Kamar Jamil, 27, Assad Hussain, 32, and Zeeshan Ahmed, 27 – have been told they will get lengthy jail sentences after they were found guilty of 59 charges.
Mrs Dogar also told of her shame at being associated with the case. She said: “We lose everything, our respect, our hope, our future, our community.”
Her shame is her failure to bring her sons up decently. Picture from Daily Mail.
Consider five factors that had no effect on the very warm reception given by President Barack Obama to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan:
–While the U.S. government has pressured Erdogan not to visit the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Erdogan announced in the White House Rose Garden that he would do so. An alleged U.S. ally says publicly in front of Obama while being hosted by him that he is going to defy the United States.
This is not some routine matter. With previous presidents, if an ally was going to do something like that he would say nothing at the time and then months later would subvert U.S. policy. Or better yet the foreign leader would not do so. To announce defiance in such a way is a serious sign of how little respect Middle East leaders have for Obama—and U.S. policy nowadays—and how little Obama will do about it.
–Equally bad is the fact that Erdogan directly promised Obama that he would conciliate with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cooperated because Obama asked him to do so. That’s what U.S. allies do. But immediately Erdogan showed he would pay no attention to the agreement he made.
His negotiators subverted it in several ways, including the demands for ridiculously large amounts of money, the delay in the promised return of the Turkish ambassador to Israel, the continuation of legal action against Israeli officials involved in the Mavi Marmara affair, when Israeli soldiers were attacked by Turkish terrorists demanding to sail to Gaza to deliver equipment to Hamas.
So a second time Erdogan betrayed Obama and make the president look foolish (that is, if anyone in the mass media pointed it out). Again, there was no U.S. criticism of the move or apparent pressure to make Erdogan keep his promise.
There are three other ways that Erdogan has subverted U.S. interests with minimal costs. In fact, the Obama Administration has usually furthered this behavior.
–Some small U.S. diplomatic protests were made about the growing internal repression in Turkey and human rights’ violations there. Increasingly, the country lives under a reign of intimidation even as the Western media mostly ignores this situation. Since the United States keeps praising him, Erdogan can demoralize his opponents, who cannot hope for foreign help, even as he carries on a policy of spreading anti-Americanism in Turkey. The political power of the Turkish armed forces–the traditional guarantor of the republic and stability in the country was dismantled by Erdogan with U.S. approval. The Turkish media was subverted with only an occasional American squeal of complaint. Now he’s destroying the independent judicial system, the last barrier to his assault on democratic rule. The U.S. embassy in Turkey consistently warned about what has been happening; the White House ignored this information.
–With the Obama Administration’s permission, the Turkish government violates the sanctions against Iran with ever-larger trade and major bilateral cooperation projects. Erdogan’s consistent defenses of Iran’s policies (though the two countries are at odds over Syria) have been forgiven and forgotten by the White House.
–Finally, in many ways the Turkish government has been taking the lead on setting U.S. policy toward Syria. It was Erdogan who largely determined that the official opposition exile leadership would be dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, a path followed by Obama. (I can’t prove it but I’ll bet that Turkey’s regime promised Obama that if he would declare support for the rebels verbally and let them be armed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia then Assad would easily fall. I’d also bet that Erdogan assured Obama that if the president helped the rebels a moderate government would emerge in Syria.)
Meanwhile, Obama has praised Erdogan unstintingly. Obama thinks Erdogan is the very model of a “moderate Islamist” and since Obama’s strategy is to support such people in much of the Arab world, Erdogan has been his guide to the region, though this has meant supporting the radical Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. What is especially ironic is that Obama believed that Erdogan’s goals were essentially the same as those of the United States while Erdogan was in fact following a profoundly anti-American policy designed to bring hostile Islamist governments to power. Remember this is no longer the old Western-oriented Turkey of previous decades but a radical–if concealed–Islamist regime.
At the Washington meeting, Obama and Erdogan agreed that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad must go. But who will they replace him with and how will they get rid of him? Obama said that the Syrian dictator, “Needs to transfer power to a transitional body….That is the only way we’re going to resolve this crisis.”
But that is demonstrably false because Assad won’t step down. So what’s the United States going to do about it? Will he continue to follow advice from Erdogan which has already proven to be wrong because it is based on the interests of a Turkish Islamist regime seeking to promote Sunni Islamism and Turkish influence in the region?
Once again the Turkish government has taken the lead on U.S. policy by pushing for direct U.S. aid to the rebels. That means giving money, weapons, and other aid to the Muslim Brotherhood and more radical groups to take power because the real moderates in the Syrian opposition are rare.
Obama’s expressed hope of creating a Syria that is “a source of stability, not extremism” is very dangerous because he might well hope that but it is not a realistic goal. And again what is Obama going to do to bring about this objective? Here’s an excellent piece on the rebel side that explains why this is not going to happen. (It was written a year ago and since then al-Qaida forces have become much stronger and openly affiliated to al-Qaida. Yet even back then it was clear that parts of the “moderate” Free Syrian Army–on which Obama and Erdogan depend–was close to al-Qaida and now in recent weeks they have defected altogether to that group.)
[Incidentally. the U.S. government has apologized to Israel for U.S. officials confirming to the New York Times that a ground attack within Syria earlier this month was staged by Israel. Publicly stating this information forced Syria (and Hizballah and Iran) to officially threaten Israel with retaliation, thus endangering Israel.]
Now, too, Iran, Russia, and Hizballah are stepping up support for Assad. It is clear that Russia will block tougher action in the UN Security Council. It is also stepping up arms shipments to Assad. If Russia provides Syria with advanced anti-aircraft missiles these could be used to shoot down any U.S. planes that tries to enforce a no-fly zone. Yet Obama doesn’t have the credibility or leverage with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who from every indication holds him in contempt as a weakling, to stop Moscow from showing that it is the stronger, more reliable ally. Hizballah has up to 5,000 fighters inside Syria now, though they have been many employed in holding territory vital for Assad’s survival.
The rebels will not win without a lot of U.S. help. This civil war is becoming an international test of wills in which Obama–for reasons that are not unreasonable--doesn’t want to fight. Yet does that mean the United States will accept a humiliating defeat at the hands of Tehran and Moscow? Fortunately, while the rebels cannot win, they also are likely to hold much of Syria. In other words, Assad can’t put down the rebellion either. But the result will be: stalemate; continued war for two years or more; tens of thousands of more deaths.
One day there will be congressional investigations on how U.S. policy armed terrorist and even, albeit unintentionally, al-Qaida groups. It will be too late. The situation in Syria makes the Iran-Contra affair–U.S. involvement during the Reagan Administration in supplying arms to pro-American Nicaraguan rebels– look like a picnic.
The situation is getting very dangerous and with a “friend” like Erdogan it is clear that Obama’s policy toward Syria, Iran, the advance of revolutionary Islamism, and the Israel-Palestinian “peace process,” is in serious trouble.
The Resistible Rise And Partial Fall Of Evelynn Hammonds
Evelynn Hammonds, Dean of Harvard College and also holder of the Barbara Rosenkranz Chair in the History of Science, makes much, in her Wiki entry, of her modest family background, And she makes much, too, of the one article she has published (which appeared in the one book she co-edited), an article that apparently was enough to win her that endowed chair at Harvard in the History of Science Department, the very department where, within living memory, . I. B. Cohen taught and edited his massive edition of Newton's Principia, and Gerard Holton was a colleague, and others of that level. When Evelynn Hammonds was allowed to occupy that chair, someone else was turned down, someone who ctually was a scholar and teacher of the history of science, and all over the land there are those whose rightful places are similarly usurped in the deepening academic scandal of Captain Good attending Captain Ill.
Here's part of Hammonds' Wikipedia entry, an entry which surely had to come from her, or from some potted autobiographical note she prepared for another use: :
Hammonds was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1953. Her mother was a school teacher and her father was a postal worker. She grew up in the time right after segregation and was forced to deal with many racial issues growing up. Hammonds attended public school in the South, and in 1976 earned her first two degrees. She earned a bachelor's degree in physics (1976) from Spelman College. She also earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1976 from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She then went on to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), earning a master's degree in physics in 1980.
She went to work as a software engineer for five years before returning to academic life. In 1993 Hammonds earned a doctorate degree in the history of science from Harvard University. At that time, MIT also invited Hammonds to teach. While she was there, she was a founding director of MIT’s center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology, and Medicine.
In 2002 she returned to Harvard and joined as a professor in the departments of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies. She received the title of Dean at Harvard College in 2008 and was only the 4th black woman to receive tenure within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University (History Makers 1). Hammonds has led a committee (to which she was appointed by former Harvard President Lawrence Summers) focusing on improving searches for female faculty at Harvard to ensure women get fair consideration for promotion, and to explore ways to support them in meeting family demands. Harvard's announcement of her appointment referred to "targeted searches as a means of enhancing gender diversity on the faculty."
Hammonds research focuses on the intersection of science and medicine and human race. Many of her works analyze gender and race in the perspective of science and medicine. She is concerned with how science examines human variation through race. Hammonds mainly studies the time period of the 17th century to present while focusing on history of diseases and African American feminism. Within these broad fields of research she is concerned with the relationship between African American women and AIDS.
In 1997, Hammond's article “Toward a Genealogy of Black Female Sexuality: The Problematic of Silence” was published in Feminist Theory and the Body: A Reader. In this article Hammond focuses on the intersection of black female sexuality and AIDS. She argues that black female sexuality (from the 19th century to present) was formed in exact opposition to that of the white woman’s, and that historically many black feminists have failed to develop a concept of black female sexuality. Hammonds then discusses the limitations of black women’s sexuality and how that affects black women with AIDS.
Hammonds defines black woman’s sexuality as having so much sexual potential that it was none at all. By this she means that black women are capable of more than their socially acceptable definition of their own sexuality, but yet they are unable to express it. This is a consequence of black women being unable to define sexuality in their own terms. Hammonds, by using iconography, illustrates that the concept of black female sexuality has always been defined socially as the opposite of a white female sexuality. She dates the earliest records of these definitions in the early 19th century with Sarah Bartmann as the “Hottentot’s Venus”. This was a black woman who was put on display and seen as vulgar because she had larger anatomical body parts than those of her white counterparts. In more recent years, black woman exemplify the notion of an uncontrolled sexuality. This was largely in part due to the comparison of black women to Victorian white women. These white women were viewed to have sexuality only for the pleasure of her man. Victorian woman were not supposed to want sex for pleasure and were only to participated in sexual acts to make her husband happy. The belief of the time was since these women did not have penis they could not receive sexual gratification. Black women were seen as hypersexual. White society thought that black female sexuality undermined the morals and values of their society.
During the late 19th early 20th century black women reformers were set on developing a new definition of black female sexuality. This new definition was an image of a super moral black female to align itself with the super moral Victorian women. These black women were set on deconstruction the hypersexual notion of the black female sexuality. Hammonds argues that by silencing the voice of the black female, the reformers oppressed black women without deconstructing the notion of the hyper sexual connotation.
Hammonds states that in order for black women to be free from oppression, black women must reclaim their sexuality. The definition of black female sexuality was always defined by an outside group looking in, first by white males, then white females. Black females must define their own sexuality in order to overcome oppression. She states that this repeated silence has become a notion of “invisibility” to describe black females’ lives. Even women with prestige in academia are still under invisibility when they are told what issues they can and cannot lecture about. Hammonds continues to extend the “invisibility” of black women to the field of medicine and science. Black women have been oppressed for so many years that negative stereotypes have been formed about black women and now to black women with AIDS. These stereotypes have created a void between black women with AIDS and society. The public continues to hold black women up to the stereotype of hypersexual and black women with AIDS are forced to deal with this oppression.
Had enough? Get the picture? I thought so.
According to the story in The Crimson, Dean Hammonds is apparently in negotiations. Negotiations about what? Being allowed to keep her her grotesque (because Harvard administrator's) salary, even if she returns to the History of Science Department? She should have been discharged months ago, and the comments by students are convincing in their expression of relief and contempt.
Here's the story:
Evelynn Hammonds Expected To End Tenure as Dean of the College This Summer
Evelynn M. Hammonds has been in negotiations about a possible departure from her position as Dean of Harvard College and is expected not to return to the post in the fall, a person with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed Friday.
The confirmation follows six weeks of speculation about the embattled dean’s future as the head of Harvard University’s flagship school.
In an emailed statement to The Crimson on Friday, Hammonds wrote, “I have not been asked to resign as dean, nor have I offered. I am dean of Harvard College and I think speculation to the contrary is unproductive.”
Her statement did not rule out the possibility that she could depart in the near future, either through a resignation or the expiration of her contract. When asked Friday evening whether she was preparing to step down as dean or whether she has been pressured to resign, Hammonds did not provide a direct response. Jeff Neal, a spokesperson for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, wrote in an email that Hammonds's statement earlier Friday answered both of those questions.
Ali S. Asani ’77, chair of the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department who said he had no direct knowledge of the negotiations, said Friday the email searches likely led to a “loss of trust” between members of the faculty and the Administrative Board.
“I am sure it has affected her relationship with these resident deans who are so core to the College, and under the circumstances, it would make her job very difficult,” Asani said.
Even if Hammonds departs from University Hall, Asani warned that issues of trust among faculty and students will not simply disappear.
The action comes after nearly two months of scrutiny over those email searches that were covertly executed on the accounts of resident deans last fall. The Boston Globe first reported those searches on March 9. Two days later, on March 11, Smith and Hammonds released a joint statement saying that the searches had been targeted, meta-data queries of the resident deans’ administrative email accounts.
However, that statement contained a number of incorrect details, and on April 2, Hammonds informed faculty gathered for their monthly meeting that she had personally authorized a second round of searches on a single resident dean’s administrative and faculty email accounts. Though Hammonds said she consulted with the University Office of the General Counsel, she did not get Smith’s authorization and therefore broke the faculty email policy. Taking responsibility for the second round of searches, Hammonds told faculty that she had “failed to recollect” them when making the March 11 statement.
Faust has tasked Boston attorney Michael B. Keating with investigating the searches and preparing a report that, according to Harvard Corporation member William F. Lee ’72, will be shared with the Harvard community.
Administrators have said that those email searches were intended to plug leaks of information related to another scandal that has clouded Hammonds’ tenure—cheating allegations that implicated approximately 125 students in Government 1310: “Introduction to Congress.” The unprecedented Ad Board case ultimately required roughly 70 undergraduates to withdraw from the College.
Many have criticized the handling of the Government 1310 case, which took more than six months to adjudicate and included an unprecedented review of all students enrolled in the course, including many who were not initially suspected to have cheated.
As Dean of the College, Hammonds is the head of the Ad Board. All resident deans also sit on that board alongside select faculty members.
Hammonds was named Dean of the College in June 2008, becoming the first woman and the first African American to hold the position. She has spent much of her five-year tenure overseeing Harvard’s ongoing House Renewal project and working to expand the College’s social spaces. Early in her term, she also helped implement the College’s new General Education program.
While some undergraduates have questioned Hammonds’s visibility as dean, Asani said he believes Hammonds has done a “very good job” making the College administration more responsive to the needs of students during her time in the role.
Hammonds became dean after a two-year stint as Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity. She is a tenured faculty member of both the History of Science and the African and African American Studies departments. It is likely she will return to those positions in the fall even if she leaves her role as Dean of the College this summer.
As recently as Monday, Robert D. Reischauer, senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation—the University’s highest governing body—told The Crimson he had not heard that Hammonds would be leaving her post as dean. He declined to comment on Hammonds’s future Friday afternoon.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali On Giving Citizenship To Permanent Enemies
Swearing In the Enemy
One of the suspected Boston bombers was a naturalized citizen, and the other was on his way. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself a new citizen, asks how we might change the process of becoming an American to exclude those who hate America.
Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who recently became a U.S. citizen, argues that immigration reform needs to include measures to detect the radically anti-American beliefs of some newcomers who seek to become Americans.
On April 25, 2013, I took the oath to become a citizen of the United States. Perhaps only those who have taken this oath can fully understand how I felt that afternoon in Boston. I felt a strong sense of belonging, and tears welled up in my eyes more than a few times during the hourlong ceremony.
I have no reason to doubt that the 1,834 other men and women who took the oath with me also felt that special sense of homecoming. On that sunny afternoon, it seemed unreal that just 10 days earlier, another new citizen of this country had taken up arms against it—against us—in the very same city.
As the whole world now knows, that new U.S. citizen was Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, only 19 years old. He had taken the oath just seven months earlier—on Sept. 11, in fact, a grim irony whose lessons we are still struggling to learn. His alleged partner in crime and mentor was his elder brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who himself had applied for citizenship and was well into the process, awaiting approval and the invitation to take the same precious oath.
That approval and invitation would surely have come, because Americans—we Americans—are a generous people. And yet, strangely, today's debate about immigration reform has little to do with keeping out people like Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The author, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, during her naturalization ceremony on April 25.
The Tsarnaev brothers are emblematic of the divided loyalties of our times—and they are not the only ones. Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani national, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who lived the American dream: He arrived on a student visa, married an American citizen, graduated from college, worked his way up the corporate ladder to become a junior financial analyst for a cosmetics company in Connecticut, became a naturalized citizen at the age of 30 and then, a year later, in 2010, tried to blow up as many of his fellow citizens as possible in a failed car bombing in New York's Times Square.
Prior to sentencing, the judge asked Mr. Shahzad about the oath of allegiance he had taken, in which he did "absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen." The defendant replied: "I sweared [sic], but I didn't mean it." He then expressed his regret about the failure of his plot and added that he would gladly have sacrificed a thousand lives in the service of Allah. He concluded by predicting the downfall of his new homeland.
Every naturalized citizen has a unique story to tell. My own journey to America was not only geographical but also intellectual, emotional and cultural. I grew up in Muslim communities in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya. In my early years, these communities (with the exception of Saudi Arabia) were moderate in their religious beliefs and practices.
The challenge is to uncover the deceit of phony citizens.
But during my teenage years, I saw a change. Friends and family members began turning to Islamic scripture, interpreted literally, for answers to all their problems. I saw religious leaders who emphasized ritual observance replaced by a new breed of imams who urged hostile action, even violence, against Jews, "infidels," and Muslims who neglected their religious duties or violated Shariah, the Islamic law.
I wasn't immune to the appeal of this new fundamentalism. I myself joined the Muslim Brotherhood, a religious and social movement in which we were urged to implement Shariah in our families, communities and nations. For a young woman, this might mean strict obedience to her husband and quiet propagation of the message; for a young man, it might mean seeking martyrdom through a violent attack against the infidels. One person might contribute money, another his home, yet another his political and social connections. What mattered was being united around the ideal of a world ruled by Shariah.
Over time, I began to question that ideal. My journey included a decade in the Netherlands, where I lived a life of profound dissonance, mentally vowing to remain steadfast in my faith while my lifestyle drifted further and further from the narrow Islamic path. I knew that the freedom I experienced in the Netherlands was supposed to be abhorrent and evil, yet I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for it and for the generosity with which the Dutch people welcomed me and so many other émigrés. I discovered that I was more comfortable with the idea of treating women, gay people, and people of different races and faiths equally than I had ever been with the strictures of Shariah.
It was this journey from a world dominated by strict adherence to religious law into a world of freedom both for and from religion that led me to that ceremony in Boston, where I finally became a citizen of the country that, above all others, represents freedom to the world. I have devoted the past decade of my life to working as hard as I can to expose the threat posed by what I label, as carefully as possible, "political Islam."
It's a subject about which I know a great deal. Political Islam killed my Dutch friend Theo van Gogh, who dared to collaborate with me in making the film "Submission," which criticizes the mistreatment of women in the name of Islam. Adherents of political Islam regularly threaten me, an apostate from their faith. Political Islam eventually made my life in the Netherlands impossible. If it were not for political Islam, I would almost certainly still be Dutch.
What is political Islam? It is not precisely the same as the spiritual dimension of the faith. Islam is multidimensional. It has a religious and social aspect but also a very strong political dimension. Political Islam is a comprehensive vision of ideas and ideals derived from Islamic scripture as interpreted by various scholars widely accepted as authorities on its meaning. Virtually all of these scholars agree that Muslim societies must accept Allah as the sovereign power and struggle to abide strictly by Shariah law as exemplified in the Sunna (the life, words and deeds of the Prophet). Political Islam prescribes a set of specific social, economic and legal practices in a way that is very different from the more general social teachings (such as calls to practice charity or strive for justice) found in the spiritual dimension of Islam, Christianity, Judaism and other world religions.
All of this, obviously, flies in the face of the American—and more broadly Western—ideals of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. But most Americans ignore the fundamental conflict between political Islam and their own worldview. Perhaps this is because they generally assume that "religion," however defined, is a positive force for good and that any set of religious beliefs, however unusual, should be considered acceptable in a tolerant society. I agree with that.
The problem arises when those who adhere to a particular faith use it as divine license to break the law. It is a wonderful truth about America—one of its powerful attractions for millions of immigrants like me—that you may think and say whatever you wish as long as you do not act on your beliefs in a way that harms others. Unfortunately, a minority of the adherents to political Islam wish to take violent action in support of their beliefs—threatening the lives of innocents like those killed and maimed as they stood watching the Boston Marathon. [here Ayaan Hirsi Ali fails to recognize that there is no clear division between those who wish to use violence as an instrument of Jihad, and those who for now do not wish to, but may change their minds in the future, if such violence can be conducted without repercussions, and in any case, the main point should not be the instrument of Jihad, but the Jihad itself, and for that, a large and comfortably settled Muslim population can be as dangerous, or more dangerous, to the well-being of non-Muslims, their laws and customs and understandings, than terrorists who are perceived as aliens
It is reasonable to ask yourself: How many more young men like Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are already living a double life in America, ready to take up arms for the cause of political Islam? And how many more will be naturalized this year? None? That seems pretty unlikely.
In a 2011 Pew survey, 1% of American Muslims said that suicide bombings were "often justified"—a tiny proportion, to be sure. The overwhelming majority of American Muslims want to lead peaceful lives. But 7% of those surveyed said that suicide bombers were "sometimes justified," and 5% said they were "rarely justified." Taking Pew's conservative estimate that Muslims now constitute 0.6% of the adult population of the U.S., this means that more than 180,000 American Muslims regard suicide bombings as being justified in some way.
Still more worrisome, a 2007 survey by Pew revealed that Muslim Americans under the age of 30 are twice as likely as older Muslims to believe that suicide bombings in defense of Islam can be justified. The same survey revealed that 7% of American Muslims between the ages of 18 and 29 had a "favorable" view of al Qaeda. [All such polls, asking Muslims living in the West what they think, are certain to mislead, to understate the problem. For there will be many who will lie-- taqiyya and kitman are both religiously-sanctioned --and lie in only one direction, by claiming that , but do so only in one direction -- pretending they don't approve of terrorism when they do. No one would claim to suppport terrorism if he didn't, but the reverse is not true. Furthermore, such a poll is not helpful, for it fails to ask, and could not have truthfully answered, the main question: Do you think Muslims have a duty to work toward a society where Islam dominates, where the teachings of Islam prevail? No real Muslim can answer "No" to that question, for the object of worship in Islam is Islam itself].
To repeat: The proportion may be small, but the number of Americans committed to political Islam and willing to contemplate violence to advance it is surely not trivial. And rising immigration from the Muslim world is likely to increase the proportion of Americans sympathetic to political Islam.
A 2013 Pew report revealed the extraordinarily large proportion of Muslims around the world who favor making Shariah the official law of their own countries: 91% of Iraqi Muslims and 84% of Pakistanis, for example. Comparably high proportions favor the death penalty for apostates like me. Are immigrants to the U.S. drawn exclusively from the tiny minority who think otherwise? I doubt it.
When trying to explain the violence of some political Islamists, some Western commentators blame hard economic circumstances, dysfunctional family circumstances, confused identity, the generic alienation of young males and so on. In other quarters, the mistakes of American foreign policy are advanced as an explanation. Even if one accepts these arguments—and these factors may indeed play a role in exacerbating the sense of violent alienation among many young Muslims—it remains hard to understand why a convinced political Islamist would sincerely want to become an American citizen.
The naturalized citizen swears to "support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic…bear true faith and allegiance to the same…[and] bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law." Naturalized citizens tie their own destiny to the destiny of this society, not their former one, for better or worse. So the potential bomber takes an oath to defend the Constitution and the U.S. against all enemies, while committed in his heart to a radically different political order.
The challenge that this would-be bomber poses for us is not to change our foreign policy or improve economic conditions in the Muslim world. We already do that. The challenge is to uncover the deceit of such phony citizens.
One measure employed during the Cold War was to question prospective citizens about whether they had ever been members of the Communist Party, a recognition that communism was an ideology fundamentally hostile to the American way of life. That question about the Communist Party is still asked today, even though the threat posed by communism has receded to a few desperate holdouts. I was surprised to encounter it not once but twice during my own application process. And it got me thinking: Is it not time to update the application form, substituting political Islam for Communism?
Of course, the question alone would do nothing to uncover deceit on the part of a determined terrorist. But it would establish the principle that adherence to political Islam, with its dreams of a society ruled by Shariah (not to mention a world ruled by a restored caliphate), is incompatible with the terms of the oath of allegiance.
During my application process, the Citizenship and Immigration Services requested that I show up at the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in downtown Boston only twice—once for fingerprints and pictures, a second time for an interview with a civil servant to review my application. It was a purely bureaucratic procedure, empty of any larger moral or political meaning—as it must have been for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Faisal Shahzad and as it would have been for Tamerlan Tsarnaev, too.
The question now is whether the interview process should remain so devoid of meaning. Is that what we want for the next zealot of political Islam who wants to enjoy the benefits of American citizenship until the day he tries to slaughter as many of us as possible?
A half-century ago, the U.S. turned away from the era when immigration was restricted with the deliberate intention of keeping down the number of Chinese and other ethnic groups, who were deemed undesirable. I have no wish to go back to those bad old days. There should be no discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity or faith. But it is not enough to confine the current debate on immigration reform to a narrow argument about the future of illegal immigrants. I believe that we are entitled to filter out would-be citizens who are ideologically and morally opposed to the U.S. and pose a threat to its population.
Every applicant should be interviewed by an ethnically and religiously diverse panel made up of experts on ideological extremism, who would then advise the government on whether or not to allow the applicant to proceed along the road to citizenship. Muslim applicants need not feel singled out; the panel would look out for any individual whose political convictions, religious or otherwise, radically clash with the government and principles to which the applicant is preparing to swear allegiance.
This would include any and all extremists who openly advocate or engage in political violence as a means for attaining their ideal society. Examples would include members of terrorist organizations such as the FARC in Colombia, the PKK in Turkey, Aum Shinrikyo in Japan and so on. The most important question is not what they believe but what they do—or believe it would be legitimate to do. Requiring candidates for citizenship to respond to questions from such a panel might do more than all the other inconvenient, expensive, and undesirable measures to combat terrorism that we currently put up with.
A big job to organize and implement? Absolutely. But such screening is necessary to ensure that the U.S. continues to draw and naturalize people who are genuinely attracted by what makes the country great and who want to make their own contribution to that greatness, while keeping out enemies bent on our demise.
"I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion: so help me God." Those closing words of the Oath of Allegiance are now etched indelibly in my memory. But as I said them, I thought of the Tsarnaev brothers, whose mental reservations about America grew to the point that they were prepared to sow murder and mayhem.
Immigration reform that does not make it harder for such people to settle in the U.S. would be, to say the least, very incomplete.
Israel, having attained its 65th anniversary, resists easy definition. Sixty-five years ago, on May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion, its first prime minister, declared independence, to which American and Soviet recognition was forthcoming the next day, following the expiration of British rule.
Any reckoning on Israel, its successes and failures, is also inescapably interwoven with the verdict one gives on the animating philosophy of the state, Zionism, which itself will celebrate later this year its 116th anniversary.
Zionism foresaw a collectivity of Jewish labor redeeming a patrimony lost in antiquity. It envisioned a national solution to that age-old disease, anti-Semitism, conscious of the fact that time was running out for Jews in Europe. Theodor Herzl, political Zionism's founder, even thought it might prove the antidote to anti-Semitism, though he doubted the possibility of reviving ancient Hebrew as a spoken language. He once asked rhetorically, "Who amongst us knows enough to purchase a railway ticket in that language?"
Herzl was wrong on both counts. The national language was revived, a feat that still eludes other peoples seeking to emulate Israel's success, but anti-Semitism, far from having been extinguished, is very much alive. Even when put to bed, it is a light sleeper.
The widespread revilement of the Jews in pre-state times was replicated when the U.N. General Assembly resolved in November 1975 that Zionism, uniquely among national movements around the globe, was a form of racism. So Israel became the focus of renewed anti-Semitism in the form of anti-Zionism, a distinction without a difference insofar as the target remains Jews, with discrimination now applied to sovereign identity rather than individual rights.
Israel solved anti-Semitism in the sense that it permitted Jews to cease being timorous petitioners to foreign governments and permitted those in need or desire of joining the national enterprise to do so. In fact, nothing better evokes today, if only fleetingly, the lost pioneering ethos of Israel than latter-day efforts to rescue Jews in distress. This is but a continuation of the process that began in Europe in the nineteenth century and embraced the Arab Middle East in the 1940s and 1950s, when Arab nationalism and Muslim supremacism combined to depopulate virtually each and every established Jewish community in Arab lands. Unlike their European counterparts in the 1930s, however, these Jews did have somewhere to go. In the span of Jewish history since the destruction of the Second Jewish Commonwealth nearly two millennia ago, that is likely to remain Israel's biggest achievement and calling-card.
Jewish labor and nation-building have had a much more checkered history. The utopian idealism of the kibbutzim is a thing of the past, although the kibbutz is still the only voluntary socialist system to have been devised and implemented. The incorporation in 1967 of the West Bank and Gaza into Israeli control during the Arab-inspired Six-Day War saw the emergence of cheap "Arab labor" which would have been deplored by Israel's founding fathers, although the ongoing hostilities into this century have somewhat reversed that trend.
The Oslo peace process, conceived as a project of political normalization, long ago foundered in bloodshed. That failure was inherent in Israel's attempt to produce a neighboring Palestinian state with Yasser Arafat and his successors, who remain dedicated to a supplanting Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority (PA) that emerged from Oslo remains a moral and political Enron. Palestinian society is radicalized and morally defunct, split between the Hamas fiefdom of Gaza and Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah redoubt in the West Bank.
Israel has provided Jews a home and turned that home into a innovative powerhouse, but it has a more modest record of success in the millenarian vision of an "in-gathering of the exiles." The in-gathering was always going to be a combination of voluntary and involuntary immigration, but it is only the heroic age of Zionism that can boast a solid core of idealists. In each succeeding epoch, the persecuted, the endangered, and the expelled have predominated. Few nations are primarily composed of people (or descendants of people) who either involuntarily left their native homes or who would have gone elsewhere given the chance. Yet there is no mystery about this. It is a special breed of person who deliberately courts danger, disease, climatic extremes, economic uncertainty, material scarcity, and neighboring hostility in preference to a settled life in a relatively tranquil society. Zionism has been only a peripheral magnet for free and enfranchised Western Jews in countries like the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, or Australia who, if they move at all, are as likely to move between each other as to Israel.
One remarkable success, however, is the realization of an early Zionist idea: to produce a new, sovereign Jew at home in his own country. Diaspora Jews often notice that Israelis do not in the main share what Jean-Paul Sartre would have called the "over-determined" character of the Jews, a result of centuries of Jewish dependence on Gentile goodwill. The Israeli is refreshingly free of untoward concern for the opinion of others or the belief that in whatever he may do, he is somehow representative of all Jews and is being judged accordingly. He has been normalized to the extent that he feels he belongs somewhere without qualification and that in this way he is like most other members of the human family. If he meets someone who dislikes him, it is not his problem, as it still remains for even the freest and most established Western Jew. He needs no communal security apparatus, anti-defamation league, hate monitors, or communal advocates. He has all of these in the forms of the Israel Defense Forces, the Mossad, and an elected, sovereign government. He can leave the job, if not always confidently, to the professionals.
For all this, Jewish sovereignty has not come cheaply; the loss of 23,085 soldiers -- about the equivalent to America losing 900,000 servicemen -- was commemorated at this year's Remembrance Day in Israel. The Arab-Israeli conflict has subjected generations of Israelis to years of military service and reserve duty, and the civilian front has often been far from tranquil. Indeed, with the advent of Oslo, Palestinian terrorists made killing and maiming ordinary Jewish civilians in the largest possible numbers a special priority. For most of the Muslim world, a theological calamity occurred with Jewish statehood. Muslim supremacists work overtime to ensure that the Jew, largely a figure of contemptuous docility in Arab collective memory, can be again relegated to Islamic subject status on "liberated" Islamic land.
Perhaps, with so much conflict, internal and external, Israel's great achievement is the resilience of its democratic life. By temperament, Israelis are the most democratic of peoples. They have a low threshold of tolerance for any pretense of social superiority. Informality is the norm. Some people think this goes a little far. As any visitor knows, graceful manners are in short supply. The army is the most respected national institution for obvious reasons, yet it has almost no chivalric tradition. There is an economy of military and civilian honors, which makes military ceremony on national occasions all the more haunting for its accessibility and austerity.
Vigorous debate and parliamentary procedures are alive and well, but proportional representation in the Knesset has balkanized politics, sometimes defying the requirements of stability and holding majorities hostage to capricious minorities. As a result, Knesset members hold office courtesy of party lists, not electors' votes, and are beholden to party whips, not to constituencies. This has engendered at once careerism, lack of accountability, and public cynicism. Worsening matters is Israeli bureaucracy, which, in its untroubled inefficiency, is typically Mediterranean. Press freedom somewhat mitigates the picture, since Israeli journalists are not inclined to self-censorship. Foreign correspondents congregate in the country, free to report without fear or favor, and often show little but disfavor. Corruption scandals are far from rare, though the country's president, Shimon Peres, once offered a consoling thought: "Better a democracy with scandals than an authoritarian system without scandals."
The Israeli Arabs -- today a minority of approximately 24% -- spent Israel's first years under military rule before participating normally in Israel life. Trade union membership followed in 1960. Political representation has always been a feature of Israeli Arab life, with Arab judges presiding over courts and Arab Knesset members sitting in governing coalitions; one, Raleb Majadele, was recently a minister in the government of Ehud Olmert (though he refuses to sing the national anthem, Hatikvah). Arabs represent Israel abroad in the diplomatic service; the staunchly loyal Druze population has enjoyed a harmonious relationship to the state, its youth even serving in elite units of the armed forces. Knowing the limits of the human condition, Israel has not imposed army service on its Arabs (though volunteers are taken), just as the U.S. did not deploy Japanese-Americans in the Pacific theater of operations during the Second World War. One result of this, however, has been that, in a country in which national service is often a prerequisite for good employment and economic opportunities, Arabs have lagged behind.
The Israeli Arab impetus for integration, such as it was, has eroded dangerously in recent years, perhaps the worst long-term consequence of the Oslo process. One need only consult the position papers of various Arab advocacy groups to see in print rejection of the Jewish character and symbols of the country and demands for binationalism. Israeli Arab Knesset members have visited neighboring states still at war with Israel, praised terror groups murdering their fellow citizens, and even advised Arab belligerents on ways to further harm Israel in both war and peacetime. How Israel deals with these ongoing dangers remains to be seen. Oslo advocates used to speak of decommissioning the conflict and thereby easing its attendant home front tensions. In reality, the opposite has occurred.
It is in these circumstances that Israel enters its sixty-sixth year. Its oldest citizens are the last alive who can maturely recall the pre-state days, the early privations, the flush of vision and pre-sovereign innocence. With their passing, the last link to Israel's youth will be lost forever. Shimon Peres, Israel's president, the democratic world's oldest serving head of state, who was once Ben Gurion's private secretary and has been present at virtually all crucial moments in the country's history, will turn ninety later this year.
Revisiting the national record has been constant with Israeli historians, boasting for over two decades now a discrete group of revisionists keen to debunk alleged nationalist orthodoxies. As often happens in historical writing, those keen to dislodge old orthodoxies end up creating new ones. It is not uncommon today to see or hear of Israeli academics lambasting their country's defense and rationalizing Arab aggression. Some of the revisionists are also at the forefront of a campaign to efface national particularity -- a phenomenon termed "post-Zionism," a peculiarly heedless conception that confuses political normalization with regional assimilation. Others have lent themselves to the campaign of delegitimization known as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).
But post-Zionism, so popular abroad, is in retreat at home. Twelve years since Arafat's walk-out with a counter-peace offer from Camp David and the unleashing of the so-called second intifada, a disillusion reinforced by Mahmoud Abbas's non-response to Ehud Olmert's 2008 offer of Palestinian statehood, Israelis are largely recovered from the shock of terror and scorching hostility to which they awoke in 2000. Polls consistently show Israelis to be wary of Palestinian intentions and skeptical of diplomatic designs, whether drawn up at home, in Washington, or elsewhere. The fusillade of rockets from Gaza permits few beyond the far left to pretend that the Gaza withdrawal was successful or that further negotiated retreats would prove more so.
But then, winning the war for Israel's acceptance, like nation-building itself, is not the work of a couple of generations. I very much like an anecdote about the veteran leader of Zionism, Chaim Weizmann. In giving testimony to the Peel Royal Commission in 1937, convened to seek a solution to the conflict in the land then under British tutelage, Weizmann was asked by one of the commissioners, Sir Horace Rumbold, if he could ever envisage a fully formed Jewish state. He replied, "Never." Astonished, Rumbold queried why Weizmann could not foresee the completion of Zionism's work. Weizmann replied that, just as Britain had been evolved over centuries so that it was impossible to determine when it had been fully formed, so too, it would be impossible to know when the Jewish state was built up and the task at an end.
Dr. Daniel Mandel is a fellow in history at Melbourne University, director of the Zionist Organization of America's Center for Middle East Policy, and author of H.V. Evatt & the Creation of Israel(London: Routledge, 2004).
Kenya police shoot dead "terror couple" who wounded 5 police officers in grenade attack
May 19, 2013
| Associated Press
NAIROBI, Kenya – Police shot dead a couple suspected to be terrorists after they threw four grenades, wounding five officers in an overnight stand-off, a police official said Sunday.
Following a tip, investigators raided the apartment where the couple was staying in the Githurai Kimbo area on the outskirts of Nairobi Saturday evening and ordered them out of their house, said Boniface Mwaniki, the head of the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit.
The couple refused to surrender, threw grenades and used their eight-month-old baby as a human shield, said Mwaniki.
Police fired tear-gas repeatedly into the house, said a resident of the building. The baby was removed from the house unconscious and two grenades were found in the house, said Augustine Nthumbi, the officer in charge of the Githurai Kimbo.
The incident highlights the threat of Islamic extremist violence in Kenya.
The man killed was Kenyan national Felix Otuko, who was suspected of carrying out two grenade attacks in October 2011 — the first of a string of grenade and gun attacks in Kenya, said Mwaniki of the police anti-terrorism unit.
Mwaniki said Otuko was a member al-Shabab cell with another Kenyan national Elgiva Bwire Oliacha, also known as Mohammed Seif, who is serving a life sentence in jail for grenade attacks in Nairobi on Oct. 24, 2011 which killed one person and injured 20 others.
Investigations showed that Oliacha supplied Otuko with the grenades for the two attacks, Mwaniki said.
These attacks followed threats against Kenya from Islamic extremist rebels in neighboring Somalia. The al-Shabab radicals, who are allied to al-Qaida, vowed to attack Kenyan targets in retaliation for the Kenyan government's decision in Oct. 2011 to send troops into Somalia to battle against al-Shabab.
The Kenyan government sent troops into Somalia after several cross-border attacks and kidnapping of foreign tourists that were blamed on al-Shabab.
Al-Shabab was working to establish a new generation of East African jihadists, warned a report by the United Nations in July 2011. The extremists represent a new security challenge for the region and wider international community, the report said. The rebels recruited other Africans in addition to ethnic Somalis, said the report.
Kenyan police warn that some are being trained by al-Shabab in Somalia and then returning to Nairobi slums, a border region near Somalia and Kenya's Indian Ocean coast, warn Kenyan police.
This is Carole Malone in the Mirror. Carole Malone writes the Mirror's 'bitch column'. I grew up on the Daily Mirror in the 50s and 60s when it was a good, campaigning, popular (but not dumb) working class newspaper. It went downhill in the 80s and cancelling it was a easy economy to make. These days it slavishly follows the Labour party line and sponsors pro Islamic, anti UKIP agitators Hope not Hate. Whether Mrs Malone's bluntness signals the beginning of the end of sponsorship for HnH or the end of her career at the Mirror I don't know. But her bluntness and Hope not Hate's reaction to the grooming here in the Yorkshire Post ( Nick Lowles, of Hope not Hate, said: “The evil that is abuse happens across all areas of society. This is not an issue of race or religion. . . We also need to ensure that the media, and far-right groups, do not promote an anti-Muslim agenda over so-called ‘grooming’ trials) are not going to be easy bedfellows.
Why did only one Muslim cleric have the guts to say it? Why was everyone else scared to? Why are they STILL scared to?
And why – even after all the sickening stories of those Oxford schoolgirls having babies aborted with hooks, being repeatedly gang-raped, beaten, branded and burned with cigarettes – are people STILL shying away from saying exactly what kind of crimes these are?
Because what happened to these girls can’t just be chucked in the box marked “general sex crimes”.
These gang atrocities in Oxford – just like the ones in Rochdale, Derby and Telford – were the very worst kind of racially motivated hate crimes committed by Muslim men who’ve been taught to believe that white women are worthless trash and deserve to be punished for their “decadent” Western lifestyle, i.e. wearing make-up and short skirts.
And while most Muslim clerics have stayed silent on this, while our wider society refuses to acknowledge what these crimes are REALLY about, only Dr Taj Hargey, imam of the Oxford Islamic congregation, had the courage to stick his head above the parapet and say what happened to these girls WAS racially motivated and illustrates the deep- seated hatred some Muslim men have for white women.
“Some people are saying the predators’ religion was an irrelevance. But that’s deluded nonsense,” he says.
So why aren’t the police saying that? Why aren’t Oxford social services? Because only when the ugly truth is acknowledged – that in supposedly integrated Britain, some Muslim men (NOT necessarily Asian men) are targeting young white girls to abuse and degrade – can the problem be tackled.
But having seen how our gutless authorities operate on issues involving race, they knew they could defile white girls however and wherever they chose.
These women, (Thames Valley Chief constable Sara Thornton who earns £160,000 a year and Head of Oxfordshire Social Services Joanna Simmons who earns £182,000 a year, neither of whom have plans to resign) just like everyone else in this horror story, did nothing to confront this evil because to do so might have led to accusations of racism.
And everyone knows that in Britain today the quickest way to have your career wrecked is to be branded a racist.
And it’s because of this insidious political correctness that some Muslims appear to have been given immunity to the rules and the moral codes that apply to everyone else. And while some allowances made in the name of religion don’t matter, the wholesale degradation of vulnerable young white women DOES!
Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has called for the expulsion of Islamic religious leaders who preach hate and said Germany’s laws must be changed to accomplish that.
Friedrich, in an interview published Saturday in the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, said, “we have to legally make it clear that using violence to accomplish a religious goal results in an automatic expulsion.”
Friedrich said he will introduce a draft bill at the conference of state interior ministers next week that calls for laws to tougher expulsion laws for extremists.
The paper asked if he was also in favor of making it easier for the government to curb social welfare payments to religious leaders who preach hate.
Friedrich said, “We want to make sure that hate preachers leave the country as soon as possible, then such a question becomes irrelevant.”
The interior minister also warned that Syria is becoming a magnet for European Islamic fighters and estimated that some 30 German Islamists are currently in Jihadist training camps in Syria. “It is to be feared that sooner or later these Islamists will come back against us.”
Al-Qaeda's Syrian wing is helping to finance its activities by selling the product of oilfields that once helped to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Up to 380,000 barrels of crude oil were previously produced by wells around the city of Raqqa and in the desert region to its east that are now in rebel hands - in particular Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda off-shoot which is the strongest faction in this part of the country.
Now the violently anti-Western jihadist group, which has been steadily extending its control in the region, is selling the crude oil to local entrepreneurs, who use home-made refineries to produce low-grade petrol and other fuels for Syrians facing acute shortages.
In the battle for the future of the rebel cause, the oil-fields may begin to play an increasingly strategic role. All are in the three provinces closest to Iraq - Hasakeh, Deir al-Zour, and Raqqa, while the Iraqi border regions are the homeland of the Islamic State of Iraq, as al-Qaeda's branch in the country calls itself. It was fighters from Islamic State of Iraq, both Iraqi and Syrian, who are thought to have founded Jabhat al-Nusra as the protests against the rule of President Assad turned into civil war.
Because of sanctions, Jabhat's oil is largely shipped to thousands of home-built mini-refineries that have sprung up across the north of the country. The crude is distilled in hand-welded vats dug into the ground and heated with burning oil residue.
It is not clear how much money is being channelled back to the group. But all those buying the raw product were aware that Jabhat was profiting. "Jabhat do not ask for taxes or charges for this trade," said one of them, Omar Mahmoud, from Raqqa province. "But we are buying the oil from them so they do not need to."
Syria's oil output, never as great as that of some of Syria's Arab neighbours, fell to about 130,000 barrels a day after the outbreak of the revolution against the Assad regime.
However, Jabhat al-Nusra are now putting that to good use. The homes refineries are turning out poor quality but usable – and much-needed - petrol and kerosene for cooking and home stoves. Their product might not meet the quality, and certainly the health and safety standards, demanded by Shell or ExxonMobil, but it provides a living to thousands of blackened figures willing to risk the business's inherent dangers. In parts of north-east Syria, the stills are set up by every road-side, the produce sold like fruit from lay-bys to drivers as they pass.
Near Raqqa, they pay 4000 Syrian pounds (£20) a barrel, with the price rising for smaller quantities and as the distance increases. A single refining vat can take six barrels at a time, producing maybe 30 litres of petrol, similar quantities of cooking fuel and higher amounts of diesel.
Jabhat have used their greater proficiency at fighting, honed by jihad in Iraq and elsewhere, to take a leading role at the battlefront. "They are more disciplined," Abu Hamza, a fighter with a rival Islamist rebel brigade in Aleppo admitted. "When they attack, they make a plan first, and then stick to it."
Their battlefield supremacy has enabled them to seize the economic as well as the military high-ground. In Raqqa, they also control flour production, earning money from selling to bakeries, some of which they own as well. "Jabhat now own everything here," one disillusioned secular activist said.
In other places they sell the flour at a loss, further endearing them to the local population. Well-funded anyway from foreign contributions, they are able to avoid levying the fees – some say bribes – to pay their men and for supplies that have made other brigades increasingly unpopular. That in turn has been a major boon to recruitment, with thousands defecting to them.
Not long ago I bought a book, published in 1922, entitled Syphilis of the Innocent. Needless to say, the title implied a corollary: for if syphilis could be contracted by the innocent (as, for example, in the congenital form of the disease), it could also be contracted by the guilty.
In general, however, physicians do not inquire after the morals of their patients, except in so far as those morals have immediate pathological consequences. They do not refuse to treat patients because they find them disgusting, because they find them unappealing, because they are appalled by the way they choose to live. They try to treat them as they find them; they may inform, but they do not reprehend.
However, in practice things are sometimes more complex than this ecumenical generosity of spirit might suggest. According to an article in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, some doctors have been turning away patients on the grounds that they were too fat (one physician suggested that she did so because, ridiculously, she feared for the safety of her staff once the patients weighed more than 200 pounds), or that their children have gone unimmunised. Is such discrimination by physicians legitimate or illegitimate, legally or morally speaking? Is there not a danger that physicians may hide behind pseudo-medical justifications to express their personal prejudices or to coerce patients into doing what the physicians think is good for them?
Let us take the question of immunization of children as an example. Some general practitioners have refused to treat families whose children are not immunized according to the recommended schedule. They do so on the grounds that a visit to the doctor’s office by an unimmunized child may pose a threat to children who happen to be visiting at the same time. Yet the empirical risk is probably not known and very likely to be small, if it exists: probably much smaller than that of leaving a child of a crankish family without medical advice. In other words, the refusal is an expression of the physician’s irritation, perhaps even of wounded amour propre, rather than of concern for the welfare of children.
Obesity also raises questions of medico-political philosophy. Surgeons, for example, sometimes refuse to operate on very fat people, especially for conditions that are not life-threatening, because the results are poorer and the rate of complications higher. This is important not only for the patient, but for the surgeon who might be judged by his results. No doubt physicians who refuse to treat the fat are more likely to see them as weak-willed rather than the victims of genetic endowment, physiology or even of society; but some doctors refuse to treat the fat on the grounds that they do not have the special equipment needed to do so. The authors of the article suggest that this is wrong; that the correct approach is that they, the doctors, ought to buy the necessary equipment. The authors, though, do not tackle the question of who is to pay for it: the doctors, the fat themselves, or the other patients? The answer given will depend crucially on one’s moral attitude to obesity.
In practice, say the authors, not many patients face discrimination; doctors still try to do their best for people as they find them. But they conclude:
Overt discrimination is rare. Evidence suggests, however, that even medical professionals are susceptible to implicit discrimination based on race, social class, sex, weight, and myriad other factors that may affect the care they provide.
This sounds ominously like an Inquisition’s charter to me. Perhaps there can be no freedom without tolerance of discrimination.
Why could the vicious bloody civil war in Syria now spill over into a new war between Syria and Israel? Israel has tried to stay out of the internecine bloodbath of a civil war that has been raging inside Syria for some two years. Since the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the Bashar regime has strictly enforced the cease-fire agreement with Israel. Israeli and Syrian forces did clash during the First Lebanon War in Lebanon, but even that did not boil over into an all-out war along the Israeli-Syrian border on the Golan Heights. But in the midst of the rebels' attempt to topple the Assad regime, Israel drew a red line: Israeli forces would intervene if the Syrian government tried to ship its chemical weapons or 'game-changing' weapons across the border to Hezbollah, its ally in Lebanon that has repeatedly attacked Israel. Last January, Israeli intelligence detected that a Syrian truck convoy was travelling to Lebanon with a shipment of advanced Russian made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles that could pose a serious threat to Israeli aircrafts. The convoy was bombed, reportedly by Israeli jets. And now this month, Israeli jets, reportedly from inside Lebanese air space, carried out two separate air strikes destroying more shipments bound for Hezbollah that included Fateh-110 surface to surface missiles that could reach Tel Aviv if launched from the Lebanese border area. Israel did not accept responsibility for any of these air strikes in order not to force Assad to retaliate. However, a Pentagon official apparently screwed up and leaked the story that indeed it was Israel!
Now put on the spot, a Syrian official declared that in the event of any future Israeli attack, Syrian forces were under orders to retaliate immediately. Iran also pressured Assad to permit Hezbollah to open a military front against Israel on the Golan Heights which has, by and large, remained quiet except for some errant shells and rockets fighting by the warring parties inside Syria. In return, an Israeli official telephoned the New York Times correspondent in Jerusalem, warning that if Syria attacked Israel on the Golan, Israel would topple the Assad regime. The last thing President Bashar Assad needed now was to get into a war with Israel. Assad's top priority is to survive by weathering, with Russia's solid support, the rebel offensive which he has done despite most predictions that his days were numbered.
The plot thickens, and from Moscow's perspective things are getting out of hand. After Russia has lost Egypt, Iraq, and most recently Libya, President Vladimir Putin is determined not to lose Syria and his naval bases in the Mediterranean port of Tartus. In a clear message to both the U.S. and Israel, a number of Russian naval vessels were dispatched to the Mediterranean. Russia has been supplying Assad's army with weapons while the West has enforced a partial arms embargo on the rebels (however Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been arming them surreptitiously). Moscow has a signed but unfilled agreement to sell S-300 state-of-the-art anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that although Moscow would not sign any new agreements with Assad, it was duty bound to honor prior arms sales. This sounded alarm bells in Jerusalem. On a trip to China, Netanyahu telephoned U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington to discuss the situation. And immediately on his return from China, the Prime Minister telephoned Putin who invited him to come to the Black Sea resort of Sochi for an urgent meeting where he publicly expressed his displeasure over the Israeli air strikes on Syria: 'At this crucial period it is especially important to refrain from any moves that can further shake the situation'. And what did Netanyahu tell Putin? Channel 2 TV in Israel has reported the Prime Minister as saying: 'The sale to Syria would likely draw Israel into a response, possibly propelling the region into war'. While interviewed on Channel 10 TV, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, a former chief of IDF Intelligence, said: 'To some extent, the current situation reminds me of the time before the outbreak of the Six Day War in 1967'.
The U.S., which wants to stay out of the Syrian conflagration, has warned: 'The Russian missile shipment to Syria will embolden Assad and prolong the conflict".
Isracast Assessment: Over the past two days Israel has signaled to Syria and Russia that it wants to cool the tension. Interviewed on Israel Radio, Maj. Gen.(ret.) Amos Gilad a top adviser in the Defense Ministry, who often articulates defense policy, made this conciliatory statement: 'President Assad is in control of the Syrian Army's weapons systems and behaves responsibly toward Israel while realizing the force (Israel) that is facing him. Israel is not acting intentionally against the regime of Bashar Assad and the Israeli air strikes in Syria are motivated self-defense'.
Several hours later a senior IDF intelligence officer told the Times of London that Israel actually preferred that Assad remain in power: 'Better the devil we know than the demons we can only imagine if Syria falls into chaos, and extremists from across the Arab world gain a foothold there'.
This should not come as a surprise. The Israeli intelligence assessment is that if Assad falls, Syria will fracture into 'cantons' controlled by various communities Alawites and Christians, Shiites, Sunnis, and the Kurds with Jihadist warlords and their forces, without any central control. In the midst of this pandemonium and a likely bloodbath, what will become of the Syrian army's large arsenal of chemical weapons and missiles? From the Israeli point of view, the Assad regimes of Hafez and Bashar, have managed to keep the lid on and preserved the cease-fire along the Golan Heights. What has upset this delicate balance is Bashar Assad's decision to start sending 'game changing' weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon in return for Hezbollah fighters now stationed in Syria. Israel will not tolerate this move by Assad, and intervened last January. Assad apparently got that message but has now tried again. Again, Israel responded on May 3 and May 5. With the 'help' of a U.S. Pentagon official, Assad was forced to respond publically, Israel did not back down, and the Russians are now involved on Assad's side and 'Bob's your uncle'. How to defuse the current situation? Senior Israeli officials have just clarified that Israel not only does not want to get involved in Syria, but actually prefers that Assad remain in power rather than al Qaeda or other Muslim fanatics. Assad has indicated that he is in no position to take on Israel at this time, so if he stopped trying to send dangerous weapons to Hezbollah, Israel would have no reason to launch air strikes on Syria. Presumably Netanyahu conveyed this message to Putin when they met in Sochi on May 13. If so, can Putin persuade Assad to stop shipping weapons to Hezbollah? The Russian leader certainly has the leverage to do so. If this assessment does not hold water and Russia does send the S-300 missiles to Syria, Israel, which views such a step as a threat to her vital security interest, may very well strike.
But then there's Iran...
Why did Assad risk getting into hot water with Israel by sending lethal weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon? The answer is likely to be found with his Iranian ally. The Iranians are interested in stirring the pot as much as they can, and that includes strengthening Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah. It would appear that Tehran urged Assad to ship some of his most sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah. What Assad didn't count on is that Israel's intelligence would detect this gambit. If so, who has greater influence on Assad these days, Russia or Iran? But you can bet Iran's leaders are rubbing their hands over the focus of international attention now on Syria and not on their nuclear weapons program.
Naturally, Israel Sensibly Prefers A Weakened Assad To Cling To Power, Just
From the Jerusalem Post:
Report: Israel prefers Assad survive Syria conflict
By JPOST.COM STAFF 18/05/2013
'Times of London' quotes Israeli officer as saying Israel prefers "the devil it knows."
The scenario that Syrian President Bashar Assad would survive his country's bloody conflict, yet would hold a lesser role, would be preferred by Israel in contrast to a takeover by rebel factions with Islamic extremist inklings, The Times of London cited an Israeli official as saying Friday.
“Better the devil we know than the demons we can only imagine if Syria falls into chaos and the extremists from across the Arab world gain a foothold there,” one senior Israeli intelligence officer was quoted as saying.
A weakened, but intact Assad regime would be preferable for Syria and the Middle East, the Times reported intelligence sources as saying.
The report quoted another defense official who told the Times that Assad's tenacity had been underestimated.
“We originally underestimated Assad’s staying power and overestimated the rebels’ fighting power,” the source said.
The situation that Assad survives, maintaining power in Damascus and in the corridors to the large coastal cities, would entail the breaking up of Syria into three separate states.
The remarks come amid current differing opinions within the defense establishment about what to expect in Syria and what outcome for its northern neighbor would benefit Israel.
According to the official, Israel has "underestimated" Assad's strength and the inner life force of the Syrian regime.
The defense establishment however, maintains its view stressing that all scenarios are possible in Syria and a change in policy by the West that would lead to military intervention could tip the scales toward one side or the other.
ROME - A 22-year-old Moroccan man has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for planning terrorist attacks on Milan’s main synagogue and Jewish school.The five year and four month sentence against Mohamed Jarmoune was handed down by a court in Brescia on Thursday.
Jarmoune, who has lived in Italy since childhood, was arrested in Brescia in March 2012.
In Afghanistan, The Sharia Is Upheld, And Women's Rights Denied
Conservative Afghan lawmakers block law protecting women, saying it is against Islam
May 18, 2013
KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan legislator says conservative lawmakers have blocked a law that aims to protect women's freedoms, saying parts of it violate Islamic principles.
The failure highlights how tenuous women's rights remain a dozen years after the ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime, whose strict interpretation of Islam kept Afghan women virtual prisoners in their homes.
The law has actually been in effect since 2009 by presidential decree. Lawmaker Fawzia Kofi wants to cement it with a parliamentary vote to prevent its future reversal.
Among its provisions are bans on child marriage and the traditional practice of selling and buying women to settle disputes.
Kofi said the law was introduced in parliament Saturday but met such fierce opposition that it was withdrawn. It wasn't immediately clear to which parts they objected.
INTERVIEW - Le cinéaste présente à Cannes, hors compétition, Le Dernier des injustes, film qui réhabilite le rabbin Benjamin Murmelstein, figure controversée de la Shoah.
À 88 ans, Claude Lanzmann ne se croyait plus capable de se lancer dans un nouveau film sur la Shoah. Pourtant, il se savait dépositaire d'un témoignage unique, celui de Benjamin Murmelstein, dernier doyen du conseil juif du ghetto de Theresienstadt. Après des années de réflexion, l'auteur du Lièvre de Patagonie a fini par relever le défi. Son film Le Dernier des injustes est présenté à Cannes dimanche hors compétition et sortira en salle en novembre 2013.
LE FIGARO. - Qu'est-ce qui vous a poussé à entreprendre ce film sur une figure aussi controversée que le rabbin Benjamin Murmelstein?
Claude LANZMANN. - Ce personnage a d'abord été l'un des premiers témoins que j'ai interviewés lorsque j'ai commencé à réfléchir à l'élaboration de Shoah. À l'époque, j'étais fasciné par la question des conseils juifs. Lui était l'un des seuls survivants du camp de Theresienstadt. Pour moi, Theresienstadt est l'acmé de la cruauté et de la perversité nazie. Pire que tout! Donc, le cas de Murmelstein m'intriguait. De plus, l'homme a souvent été victime d'une image négative. Mais ce n'était que des on-dit. C'est pourquoi je me suis rendu à Rome pour l'interviewer en 1975. Nous avons tourné durant une semaine. C'était passionnant et surprenant.
Parce que j'ai été surpris par cet homme. Il a été d'une honnêteté parfaite. Très rapidement, je me suis rendu compte que c'était un type astucieux, inventif, courageux, héroïque on peut dire. Il vivait alors en exil à Rome, mis au ban du judaïsme organisé, de façon totalement injuste. Il n'a jamais pu se rendre en Israël. Il s'était volontairement livré aux autorités tchèques. Et croyez-moi, les tribunaux tchèques ce n'était pas de la rigolade: il y avait énormément de pendaisons. Il a été acquitté des faits qui lui étaient reprochés.
Quelles ont été vos premières impressions quand vous l'avez rencontré?
Je croyais que Benjamin était un homme assez violent, un gueulard. J'ai découvert un être d'une brillante intelligence, d'une grande finesse d'esprit. Il avait un sens de la repartie. Il était très drôle par-dessus le marché. Sardonique même. Il ne se racontait pas d'histoire et n'acceptait pas qu'on lui en raconte. Il était d'une culture fabuleuse, connaissait toutes les mythologies du monde, c'était un véritable savant talmudique. Sur l'échiquier du mal, il s'est toujours débrouillé pour avoir six coups d'avance sur les nazis.
Quelle a été l'étincelle qui a ranimé votre envie de faire ce film?
Je vais vous le dire. L'étincelle, c'est d'abord une vieille envie, quelque chose qui me hantait depuis longtemps. Il y a eu tant de bêtises qui ont été dites depuis le procès Eichmann, qui est une honte en vérité, parce que c'est un procès d'ignorants. Le Dernier des injustes apporte un éclairage total sur la personnalité d'Eichmann. Celui-ci n'apparaît plus comme un «falot bureaucrate», mais plutôt comme un démon, fanatiquement antisémite, violent, corrompu. Hannah Arendt, qui n'avait connu tout cela que de très loin, a raconté beaucoup d'absurdités à ce sujet. La banalité du mal n'est rien d'autre que la banalité de ses propres conclusions. Même si, par ailleurs, elle a écrit des ouvrages valables. Mais ça, ce n'est pas ce qu'elle a fait de mieux. Vraiment!
« J'ai aussi réalisé qu'il fallait que je sois dans le film, ce que je n'avais pas compris immédiatement »
Est-ce cela le déclencheur?
Ça et un autre souvenir. Comme je ne pouvais pas entreposer tout le matériel que j'avais amassé avec les années à Paris, je l'ai confié à l'Holocauste Memorial Museum de Washington. Ils ont tout numérisé et restauré. Je leur avais dit que ce matériel brut pouvait être utilisé par des chercheurs. Il y a six ans, alors que j'assistais à la projection d'un documentaire à Vienne sur la Shoah, soudain, je me suis vu, moi, à l'écran, en train d'interviewer Murmelstein. J'ai réalisé: «Mais c'est moi, tout ça!» J'ai ressenti ça comme un vol. Alors, j'ai décidé de faire ce film. Et de le faire comme une œuvre d'art, pas comme un documentaire. Nous avons tourné durant deux mois l'année dernière, je suis retourné sur les lieux, à Theresienstadt, en Pologne, à Prague, à Rome, en Israël. J'ai aussi réalisé qu'il fallait que je sois dans le film, ce que je n'avais pas compris immédiatement. Car je porte le film physiquement et psychologiquement à deux âges de ma vie. Ainsi, je ressuscite enfin Murmelstein.
C'était votre objectif?
Oui. Je voulais lui rendre enfin justice et apporter réparation. Je trouve qu'on s'est très mal conduit avec cet homme.
Être à Cannes, qu'est-ce que ça représente pour vous?
C'est une belle invitation. J'en suis très heureux. Cannes est un lieu idéal pour montrer un film et permettre aux gens d'en parler partout.
S'agit-il de votre dernier film?
On pourrait le dire. Mais je ne le crois pas. Après que j'ai reçu l'ours d'or à Berlin, je présente mon film à Cannes, ce n'est pas mal pour un homme de mon âge. Croyez bien que je ne prends pas ma retraite. J'ai même un nouveau projet. Je ne peux encore rien vous en dire, mais ça viendra…
In France, Families Receiving About $100,000 A Year In Support Will See A Reduction
An American reading the headline may not quite believe it: in France, many families -- apparently 15% of those that exist, or is it 15% of those on welfare -- have been receiving monthly allowances of 5,000 or 6,000 Euros. That amounts to about $100,000 a year. The amount depends on the number of children. Which families in France consist of unemployed parents and a great number of children?
15% des ménages pénalisés par la baisse des allocations familiales
1. I was invited to a discussion of the Israeli Documentary Filmmakers Forum recently. To prepare, I watched the two films that represented Israel in the American Academy Awards' documentary film category -- Dror Moreh's "The Gatekeepers" and "5 Broken Cameras" by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi. Despite the harsh reviews they received, I recommend seeing them. They represent a perspective that needs to be dealt with.
I'll write about "The Gatekeepers" now and save "5 Broken Cameras" for another time. The sycophantic interviews of Dror Moreh in the American media did not bode well for his ability to decode the riddle of the heads of the Shin Bet. They do not say much that is deep in the film. Perhaps this is because Moreh could not deal with such minds or because he was interested not in psychological or intellectual depth, but rather in the political story in which the heads of the Shin Bet served as statistics to fill in the left wing's version of the failure of the Oslo Accords.
The theme of "shooting and weeping" has been well known since we came back to our country and had to defend it with our lives, together with the necessity of taking the lives of others. Now even the heads of the Shin Bet have doubts. This either-or quality is the bread and butter of drama: morality versus terrorism, combat versus conscience, control versus the desire for liberty. The film opens with former Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin's motto: "There's something unnatural about taking the lives of people in a single second."
His predecessor, Avraham Shalom, gives away the film's implied position: "Because of terrorism, we forget the issue of the Palestinian state." Why did we forget? Maybe terrorism was the goal from the onset, and the Palestinians actually never wanted a state? But Moreh is not showing statements that could put cracks in his narrative.
While the film pretends to present complexity, it never fulfills its promise. It shows the world as black and white, and the historical excerpts have no profound context. The Six-Day War. A Palestinian population. Occupation. That's it. There's no discussion about our historical, religious and cultural context as a nation living in this region. Not a word about our principled claim to sovereignty over it.
2. One of the film's focal points is the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, but not as a failure of the Shin Bet; Moreh doesn't ask uncomfortable questions. He does not ask about the Shin Bet's involvement; the use of the agent Avishai Raviv, who was close to assassin Yigal Amir; or about the dilemma of planting provocateurs among the settlers. The settlers are shown in the context of madness, irrationality and menace. The Jewish underground of the time appears as a stereotype that is supposed to represent the entire settlement enterprise. It seemed that in those parts of the film, we were back in the 1980s, when there was no color television in Israel, but only black (the settlers) and white.
Moreh repeats the lie of the demonstration at Zion Square on Oct. 5, 1995 against the Oslo Accords as if those who were on the balcony had seen the photo montage of Rabin in an SS uniform. Had he read the Shamgar Commission report's secret fourth chapter about Avishai Raviv, he would have found out who distributed the photo in the media. (Surprise: It was a Shin Bet agent.) Moreh also repeats the lie about Netanyahu and the coffin that was carried during another demonstration that was said to represent Rabin. That same year, students demonstrated with coffins representing the death of higher education. The coffin at the demonstration symbolized the death of Zionism, not of Rabin, as the writing on it clearly shows. But Moreh is not looking for truth. He seeks only to confirm his version of events, and uses Rabin's assassination to show what he sees as the right wing's culpability.
This point is important because Rabin's assassination could have served as a profound mirror for decoding something in the enigmatic personalities of the heads of the Shin Bet. But Moreh is interested only in the oft-repeated, two-dimensional complaint: the occupation. Moreh's version of events posits that the killing of Yahya Ayyash, who was responsible for the murder of so many Israelis, led to a chain of suicide bombings. Those bombings, as he sees it, were our fault.
The Second Intifada, which broke out in September 2000, is explained similarly. Ami Ayalon gives a justification for it, and there is no mention of how Arafat planned it in advance, as most experts claim. There is no historical context, only the platitude "violence breeds violence," a vague equation that draws its nourishment from moral relativism and rejects the idea that a righteous person is any different from a wicked one. No distinction is made between good and evil; everything, including the victim's attempt to defend himself, is bound up in the general concept of "violence." On second thought, the film actually does decide who is good and who is evil.
Avraham Shalom, who was the head of the Shin Bet when the Bus 300 affair took place, plays a prominent role in the film. In April 1984, terrorists who hijacked a bus were captured, bound and killed. Shalom was considered the toughest of the six Shin Bet heads, and it is hard to get away from the impression that he wanted to clear himself. But nothing can clear Shalom of his statement in the film that our army resembles the German army during World War II (!).
Indeed, he qualifies the statement: He's not referring to the way the German army treated the Jews, but the way it treated the Belgians, the Poles and so on. Still, Shalom had hundreds of examples to choose from, but chose one that makes a clear statement: The Israel Defense Forces resemble the Nazi army. After such a foolish statement, can one ever claim otherwise? And as if that were not enough, Ayalon comes along and calls the targeted killings "the banality of evil." From where I sit, that's the peak of the film and a distillation of Moreh's basic assumption.
3. To understand how banal it is to drop intellectual bombshells, we should remember where the expression comes from. It is taken from the title of the book the German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote about Adolf Eichmann's trial in 1961: "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil." For Arendt, Eichmann was a man of ordinary character, a "banal" man who participated in the greatest crime in history.
Now, here comes Ayalon's analogy. He compares Israel's adherence to the moral dictum of "if one comes to kill you, rise early and kill him first" to the banality of evil. In such a comparison, there is no choice but to see Israel's defensive surgical strikes as evil. The comparison does not stop there; it goes backward in time to Eichmann and his actions, which are the source of the expression.
So it is that two heads of the Shin Bet compare Israel to Nazi Germany. Can there be a clearer expression of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of Israel's old-time elite? A thousand public-relations teams throughout the world can never overcome the moral failure of those to whom we entrusted our security. These awful statements are exactly what the director wanted. An analysis of the film reveals his view that Israel's actions in Judea and Samaria are equivalent to the acts of the Germans in World War II.
Moreh chooses to end the film with a highly significant scene: Palestinian detainees in their underwear. As is customary for him, he offers no explanation for the detainees' nakedness, which stems from the fear that they may be wearing explosive belts. What remains in the viewers' memories is the photograph of the Palestinians whom the wicked Israeli system has forced, in its banal arbitrariness, to undress and pass by en masse.
Thus far the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has weathered the storm that has swept across the Middle East since the beginning of the year. But the relative calm in Amman is an illusion. The unspoken truth is that the Palestinians, the country's largest ethnic group, have developed a profound hatred of the regime and view the Hashemites as occupiers of eastern Palestine—intruders rather than legitimate rulers. This, in turn, makes a regime change in Jordan more likely than ever. Such a change, however, would not only be confined to the toppling of yet another Arab despot but would also open the door to the only viable peace solution—and one that has effectively existed for quite some time: a Palestinian state in Jordan.
Abdullah's Apartheid Policies
The majority Palestinian population of Jordan bridles at the advantages and benefits bestowed on the minority Bedouins. Advancement in the civil service, as well as in the military, is almost entirely a Bedouin prerogative with the added insult that Palestinians pay the lion's share of the country's taxes.
Despite having held a comprehensive national census in 2004, the Jordanian government would not divulge the exact percentage of Palestinians in the kingdom. Nonetheless, the secret that everyone seems to know but which is never openly admitted is that Palestinians make up the vast majority of the population.
In his 2011 book, Our Last Best Chance, King Abdullah claimed that the Palestinians make up a mere 43 percent. The U.S. State Department estimates that Palestinians make up "more than half" of Jordanians while in a 2007 report, written in cooperation with several Jordanian government bodies, the London-based Oxford Business Group stated that at least two thirds of Jordan's population were of Palestinian origin. Palestinians make up the majority of the population of Jordan's two largest cities, Amman and Zarqa, which were small, rural towns before the influx of Palestinians arrived in 1967 after Jordan's defeat in the Six-Day War.
In most countries with a record of human rights violations, vulnerable minorities are the typical victims. This has not been the case in Jordan where a Palestinian majority has been discriminated against by the ruling Hashemite dynasty, propped up by a minority Bedouin population, from the moment it occupied Judea and Samaria during the 1948 war (these territories were annexed to Jordan in April 1950 to become the kingdom's West Bank).
As a result, the Palestinians of Jordan find themselves discriminated against in government and legislative positions as the number of Palestinian government ministers and parliamentarians decreases; there is not a single Palestinian serving as governor of any of Jordan's twelve governorships.
Jordanian Palestinians are encumbered with tariffs of up to 200 percent for an average family sedan, a fixed 16-percent sales tax, a high corporate tax, and an inescapable income tax. Most of their Bedouin fellow citizens, meanwhile, do not have to worry about most of these duties as they are servicemen or public servants who get a free pass. Servicemen or public employees even have their own government-subsidized stores, which sell food items and household goods at lower prices than what others have to pay, and the Military Consumer Corporation, which is a massive retailer restricted to Jordanian servicemen, has not increased prices despite inflation.
Decades of such practices have left the Palestinians in Jordan with no political representation, no access to power, no competitive education, and restrictions in the only field in which they can excel: business.
According to the Minority Rights Group International's World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples of 2008, "Jordan still considers them [Palestinian-Jordanians] refugees with a right of return to Palestine." This by itself is confusing enough for the Palestinian majority and possibly gives basis for state-sponsored discrimination against them; indeed, since 2008, the Jordanian government has adopted a policy of stripping some Palestinians of their citizenship. Thousands of families have borne the brunt of this action with tens of thousands more potentially affected. The Jordanian government has officially justified its position: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Nayef Qadi told the London-based al-Hayat newspaper that "Jordan should be thanked for standing up against Israeli ambitions of unloading the Palestinian land of its people" which he described as "the secret Israeli aim to impose a solution of Palestinian refugees at the expense of Jordan." According to a February 2010 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, some 2,700 Jordanian-Palestinians have had their citizenship revoked. As HRW obtained the figure from the Jordanian government, it is safe to assume that the actual figure is higher. To use the words of Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division of HRW, "Jordan is playing politics with the basic rights of thousands of its citizens."
But Abdullah does not really want the Palestinians out of his kingdom. For it is the Palestinians who drive the country's economy: They pay heavy taxes; they receive close to zero state benefits; they are almost completely shut out of government jobs, and they have very little, if any, political representation. He is merely using them as pawns in his game against Israel by threatening to make Jerusalem responsible for Jordanians of Palestinian descent in the name of the "right of return."
Despite systematic marginalization, Palestinians in Jordan seem well-settled and, indeed, do call Jordan home. Hundreds of thousands hold "yellow cards" and "green cards," residency permits allowing them to live and work in Israel while they maintain their Jordanian citizenship. In addition, tens of thousands of Palestinians—some even claim hundreds of thousands—hold Israeli residency permits, which allow them to live in Judea and Samaria. Many also hold a "Jerusalem Residency Card," which entitles them to state benefits from Israel. Yet they have remained in Jordan. Despite ill treatment by the Jordanian government, they still wish to live where most of their relatives and family members live and perhaps actually consider Jordan home.
Playing the Islamist Card
The Hashemites' discriminatory policies against the Palestinians have been overlooked by the West, Washington in particular, for one main reason: the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was the beating heart of Palestinian politics, and thus, if the Palestinians were empowered, they might topple the Hashemites and transform Jordan into a springboard for terror attacks against Israel. This fear was not all that farfetched. The Palestinian National Charter, by which the PLO lives, considers Palestine with its original mandate borders (i.e., including the territory east of the Jordan River, or Transjordan) as the indivisible homeland of the Palestinian Arab people. In the candid admission of Abu Dawoud, Yasser Arafat's strongman in the 1970s, "Abu Ammar [Arafat] was doing everything then to establish his power and authority in Jordan despite his public statements" in support of King Hussein. This tension led to the 1970 Black September civil war where the PLO was expelled from Jordan and thousands of Palestinians were slaughtered by Hussein's Bedouin army.
With the threat of Palestinian militants removed, the idea of having the Muslim Brotherhood entrenched in a Palestinian state with the longest border with Israel would naturally be of concern to Israel and its allies.
The only problem with this theory is that the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan is dominated by Bedouins, not Palestinians. The prominent, hawkish Muslim Brotherhood figure, Zaki Bani Rushiad, for example, is a native of Irbid in northern Jordan—not a Palestinian. Salem Falahat, another outspoken Brotherhood leader, and Abdul Latif Arabiat, a major tribal figure and godfather of the Brotherhood in Jordan, are also non-Palestinians. Upon President Obama's announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden, tribal Jordanians in the southern city of Ma'an mourned the terror leader's death and announced "a celebration of martyrdom." Other cities with predominantly Bedouin populations, such as Salt and Kerak, did the same. The latter, a stronghold of the Majali tribe (which has historically held prominent positions in the Hashemite state) produced Abu Qutaibah al-Majali, bin Laden's personal aide between 1986 and 1991, who recruited fellow Bedouin-Jordanian, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in a 2006 U.S. raid.
The Hashemite regime is keenly aware of U.S. and Israeli fears and has, therefore, striven to create a situation where the world would have to choose between the Hashemites and the Muslim Brotherhood as Jordan's rulers. To this end, it has supported the Muslim Brotherhood for decades, allowing it to operate freely, to run charitable organizations and youth movements, and to recruit members in Jordan. In 2008, the Jordanian government introduced a new law, retroactively banning any existing political party unless it had five hundred members and branches in five governorates (counties). Since such conditions could only be fulfilled by the Muslim Brotherhood, most political parties were dissolved de jure because they did not meet the new standards, leaving the Islamic Action Front as the strongest party in the kingdom.
Both Jerusalem and Washington are aware of the Jordanian status quo yet have chosen to accept the Hashemite regime as it is, seduced by the conventional wisdom of "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't." The facts on the ground, however, suggest that the devil they think they know is in deep trouble with its own supposed constituency.
The Bedouin Threat
Despite their lavish privileges, Jordanian Bedouins seem to insist relentlessly on a bigger piece of the cake, demanding more privileges from the king, and, in doing so, they have grown fearless about defying him. Since 2009, fully-armed tribal fights have become commonplace in Jordan. Increasingly, the Hashemite regime has less control than it would like over its only ruling foundation—the Bedouin minority—which makes up the army, the police forces, all the security agencies, and the Jordanian General Intelligence Department. The regime is, therefore, less likely to survive any serious confrontations with them and has no other choice but to keep kowtowing to their demands.
What complicates the situation even further is that Bedouin tribes in Jordan do not maintain alliances only with the Hashemites; most shift their loyalties according to their current interests and the political season. Northern tribes, for example, have exhibited loyalty to the Syrian regime, and many of their members hold dual citizenships. In September 1970, when Syrian forces invaded Jordan in the midst of the civil war there, the tribes of the northern city of Ramtha raised the Syrian flag and declared themselves "independent" from the Hashemite rulers.
Likewise, Bedouin tribes of the south have habitually traded loyalty for privileges and handouts with whoever paid better, beginning with the Turks, then replacing them with the better-paying Britons, and finally the Hashemites. This pattern has expanded in the last twenty years, as tribesmen exchanged their loyalties for cash; in fact this is how they got involved in the British-supported Arab revolt of World War I, in which the Bedouins demanded to be paid in gold in advance in order to participate in the fighting against the Ottomans despite their alignment with the Ottoman Empire before joining the revolt.
This in turn means that the Jordanian regime is now detested not only by the Palestinians but also by the Bedouins, who have called for a constitutional monarchy in which the king hands his powers to them. Should the tribes fail to achieve their goals, they will most likely expand their demonstrations of unrest—complete with tribal killings, blockades, armed fights, robberies, and attacks on police officers—which the Jordanian state finds itself having to confront weekly. In 2010, an average of five citizens was killed each week just as a result of tribal unrest.
The Hashemite regime cannot afford to confront the tribesmen since they constitute the regime's own servicemen and intelligence officers. In 2002, the Jordanian army besieged the southern Bedouin city of Ma'an in order to arrest a group of extremists, who were then pardoned a few years later. Similarly, Hammam Balaoui, a Jordanian intelligence double agent was arrested in 2006 for supporting al-Qaeda, only to be released shortly thereafter, eventually blowing himself up in Afghanistan in 2009 along with seven senior CIA officers and King Abdullah's cousin.
These open displays of animosity are of a piece with the Hashemite regime's use of its Palestinian citizens as pawns in its game of anti-Israel one-upmanship.
King Hussein—unlike his peace-loving image—made peace with Israel only because he could no longer afford to go to war against it. His son has been less shy about his hostility and is not reluctant to bloody Israel in a cost-effective manner. For example, on August 3, 2004, he went on al-Arabiya television and slandered the Palestinian Authority for "its willingness to give up more Palestinian land in exchange for peace with Israel." He often unilaterally upped Palestinian demands on their behalf whenever the Palestinian Authority was about to make a concession, going as far as to threaten Israel with a war "unless all settlement activities cease."
This hostility toward Israel was also evident when, in 2008, Abdullah started revoking the citizenship of Jordanian Palestinians. By turning the Palestinian majority in Jordan into "stateless refugees" and aggressively pushing the so-called "right of return," the king hopes to strengthen his anti-Israel credentials with the increasingly Islamist Bedouins and to embarrass Jerusalem on the world stage. It is not inconceivable to envision a scenario where thousands of disenfranchised Palestinians find themselves stranded at the Israeli border, unable to enter or remain in Jordan. The international media—no friend of the Jewish state—would immediately jump into action, demonizing Israel and turning the scene into a fiasco meant to burden Jerusalem's conscience—and that of the West. The Hashemite regime would thereby come out triumphant, turning its own problem—being rejected and hated by the Palestinians—into Israel's problem.
A Pot Boiling Over
The Jordanian government's mistreatment of its Palestinian citizenry has taken a significant toll. Today, the Palestinians are a ticking bomb waiting to explode, especially as they watch their fellow Arabs rebelling against autocrats such as Egypt's Mubarak, Libya's Qaddafi, or Syria's Assad.
The complex relationship between the Palestinian majority and the Hashemite minority seems to have become tenser since Abdullah ascended the throne in 1999 after King Hussein's death. Abdullah's thin knowledge of the Arabic language, the region, and internal affairs, made him dependent on the Bedouin-dominated Jordanian Intelligence Department standing firmly between the king and his people, of which the Palestinians are the majority. A U.S. embassy cable, dated July 2009, reported "bullying" practiced by the fans of al-Faisali Soccer Club (predominantly Bedouin Jordanians) against the fans of al-Wihdat Soccer Club (predominantly Palestinians), with al-Faisali fans chanting anti-Palestinian slogans and going so far as to insult Queen Rania, who is of Palestinian descent. Two days after the cable was released, Jordanian police mercilessly attacked Palestinian soccer fans without provocation, right under the eyes of the international media.
Palestinians in Jordan have also developed an intense hatred of the military as they are not allowed to join the army; they see Bedouin servicemen getting advantages in state education and health care, home taxes, and even tariff exemption on luxury vehicles. In recent years, the Jordanian military has consumed up to 20.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
Government spending does not end with the army. Jordan has one of the largest security and intelligence apparatuses in the Middle East, perhaps the largest compared to the size of its population. Since intelligence and security officers are labeled as "military servicemen" by the Jordanian Ministry of Finance, and their expense is considered military expenditure, Jordanian Palestinians see their tax dollars going to support job creation for posts from which they themselves are banned. At the same time, the country has not engaged in any warfare since 1970, leading some to conclude that this military spending is designed to protect the regime and not the country—a conclusion underscored by the Black September events.
A Path to Peace?
The desperate and destabilizing measures undertaken by the Hashemite regime to maintain its hold on power point to a need to revive the long-ignored solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict: the Jordanian option. With Jordan home to the largest percentage of Palestinians in the world, it is a more logical location for establishing Palestinian statehood than on another country's soil, i.e., Israel's.
There is, in fact, almost nothing un-Palestinian about Jordan except for the royal family. Despite decades of official imposition of a Bedouin image on the country, and even Bedouin accents on state television, the Palestinian identity is still the most dominant—to the point where the Jordanian capital, Amman, is the largest and most populated, Palestinian city anywhere. Palestinians view it as a symbol of their economic success and ability to excel. Moreover, empowering a Palestinian statehood for Jordan has a well-founded and legally accepted grounding: The minute the minimum level of democracy is applied to Jordan, the Palestinian majority would, by right, take over the political momentum.
For decades, however, regional players have entertained fears about empowering the Palestinians of Jordan. While there may be apprehension that Jordan as a Palestinian state would be hostile to Israel and would support terror attacks across their long border, such concerns, while legitimate, are puzzling. Israel has allowed the Palestinians to establish their own ruling entities as well as their own police and paramilitary forces on soil captured in the 1967 war, cheek by jowl with major Israeli population centers. Would a Palestinian state on the other side of the Jordan River pose any greater security threat to Israel than one in Judea and Samaria?
Moreover, the Jordan Valley serves as a much more effective, natural barrier between Jordan and Israel than any fences or walls. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the centrality of Israeli control over the western side of the Jordan Valley, which he said would never be relinquished. It is likely that the area's tough terrain together with Israel's military prowess have prevented the Hashemite regime from even considering war with Israel for more than forty years.
It could be argued that should the Palestinians control Jordan, they would downsize the military institutions, which are dominated by their Bedouin rivals. A Palestinian-ruled Amman might also seek to cut back on the current scale of military expenditures in the hope that the U.S. military presence in the region would protect the country from unwelcome encroachments by Damascus or Tehran. It could also greatly benefit from financial and economic incentives attending good-neighbor relations with Israel. Even if a Jordanian army under Palestinian commanders were to be kept at its current level, it would still be well below Israel's military and technological edge. After all, it is Israel's military superiority, rather than regional goodwill, that drove some Arab states to make peace with it.
The Palestinians in Jordan already depend on Israel for water and have enjoyed a thriving economic boom driven by the "Qualified Industrial Zones," which allow for Jordanian clothing factories to export apparel to the United States at preferred tariff rates if a minimum percentage of the raw material comes from Israel. Hundreds of Palestinian factory owners have prospered because of these zones. Expanding such cooperation between a future Palestinian state in Jordan and Israel would give the Palestinians even more reasons to maintain a good relationship with their neighbor.
Both the United States and Israel should consider reevaluating the Jordan option. Given the unpopularity of the Hashemite regime among its subjects, regime change in Amman should not be that difficult to achieve though active external intervention would likely yield better results than the wait-and-see-who-comes-to-power approach followed during the Egyptian revolution. After twelve years on the throne, and $7 billion dollars in U.S. aid, Abdullah is still running a leaky ship and creating obstacles to resolving the Palestinian issue.
Washington's leverage can come into play as well with the Jordanian armed forces which are, in theory, loyal to the king. With hundreds of troops undergoing training in the United States each year and almost $350 million handed out in military aid, the U.S. establishment could potentially influence their choices.
Recent events in the Middle East should serve as guidelines for what ought to be pursued and avoided. U.S. diplomacy failed to nurse a moderate opposition to Egypt's Mubarak, which could have blocked Islamists and anti-Americans from coming to power. The current turmoil in Libya has shown that the later the international community acts, the more complicated the situation can get. An intervention in Jordan could be much softer than in Libya and with no need for major action. Abdullah is an outsider ruling a poor country with few resources; his only "backbone" is Washington's political and financial support. In exchange for a promise of immunity, the king could be convinced to let the Palestinian majority rule and become a figurehead, like Britain's Queen Elizabeth.
As further assurance of a future Palestinian Jordan's peaceful intentions, very strict antiterrorism laws must be implemented, barring anyone who has incited violence from running for office, thus ruling out the Islamists even before they had a chance to start. Such an act should be rewarded with economic aid that actually filters down to the average Jordanian as opposed to the current situation, in which U.S. aid money seems to support mainly the Hashemites' lavish lifestyle.
Alongside downsizing the military, a defense agreement with Washington could be put in place to help protect the country against potentially hostile neighbors. Those who argue that Jordan needs a strong military to counter threats from abroad need only look again at its history: In 1970, when Syria invaded northern Jordan, King Hussein asked for U.S. and Israeli protection and was eventually saved by the Israeli air force, which managed to scare the Syrian troops back across the border. Again in 2003, when Washington toppled Saddam Hussein, Amman asked for U.S.-operated Patriot missile batteries and currently favors an extended U.S. presence in Iraq as a Jordanian security need.
Should the international community see an advantage to maintaining the military power of the new Palestinian state in Jordan as it is today, the inviolability of the peace treaty with Israel must be reasserted, indeed upgraded, extending into more practical and tangible economic and political arenas. A mutual defense and counterterrorism agreement with Israel should be struck, based on one simple concept—"good fences make good neighbors"—with the river Jordan as the fence.
Considering the Palestinian-Jordanian option for peace would not pose any discrimination against Palestinians living in the West Bank, nor would it compromise their human rights: They would be welcome to move to Jordan or stay where they are if they so wished. Free will should be the determinant, not political pressure. Besides, there are indications that many would not mind living in Jordan. Were the Palestinians to dominate Jordan, this tendency will be significantly strengthened. This possibility has also recently been confirmed by a released cable from the U.S. embassy in Amman in which Palestinian political and community representatives in Jordan made clear that they would not consider the "right of return" should they secure their civil rights in Jordan.
Empowering Palestinian control of Jordan and giving Palestinians all over the world a place they can call home could not only defuse the population and demographic problem for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria but would also solve the much more complicated issue of the "right of return" for Palestinians in other Arab countries. Approximately a million Palestinian refugees and their descendents live in Syria and Lebanon, with another 300,000 in Jordan whom the Hashemite government still refuses to accept as citizens. How much better could their future look if there were a welcoming Palestinian Jordan?
The Jordanian option seems the best possible and most viable solution to date. Decades of peace talks and billions of dollars invested by the international community have only brought more pain and suffering for both Palestinians and Israelis—alongside prosperity and wealth for the Hashemites and their cronies.
It is time for the international community to adopt a more logical and less costly solution rather than to persist in long discredited misconceptions. It is historically perplexing that the world should be reluctant to ask the Hashemites to leave Jordan, a country to which they are alien, while at the same time demanding that Israeli families be removed by force from decades-old communities in their ancestral homeland. Equally frustrating is the world's silence while Palestinians seeking refuge from fighting in Iraq are locked in desert camps in eastern Jordan because the regime refuses to settle them "unless foreign aid is provided."
The question that needs to be answered at this point is: Has the West ever attempted to establish any contacts with a pro-peace, Palestinian-Jordanian opposition? Palestinians today yearn for leaders. Washington is presented with a historical opportunity to support a potential Palestinian leadership that believes in a peace-based, two-state solution with the River Jordan as the separating border between the two countries. Such leadership does seem to exist. Last September, for example, local leaders in Jordanian refugee camps stopped Palestinian youth from participating in mass protests against the Israeli Embassy in Amman; as a result, barely 200 protesters showed up instead of thousands as in similar, previous protests. As for East Jerusalem, under Israel's 44-year rule, Muslims, Christians, and members of all other religions have been able to visit and practice their faith freely, just as billions of people from all over the world visit the Vatican or Muslim pilgrims flock to Mecca. Yet under the Hashemite occupation of the city, this was not done. Without claiming citizenship, Jerusalem would remain an open city to all who come to visit.
The Jordanian option is an overdue solution: A moderate, peaceful, economically thriving, Palestinian home in Jordan would allow both Israelis and Palestinians to see a true and lasting peace.
Mudar Zahran is a Jordanian-Palestinian writer who resides in the United Kingdom as a political refugee. He served as an economic specialist and assistant to the policy coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Amman before moving to the U.K. in 2010.